Where the Heart is, featuring work by alumna Susan Chen ’20

Alumna Susan Chen ‘20 in Group Exhibition ‘Where the Heart Is’

BY Brittany Nguyen, March 30, 2021

The Palo Alto Art Center presents Where the Heart Is: Contemporary Art by Immigrant Artists featuring the work of alumna Susan Chen ’20 and fourteen other visual artists. 


All artists inspect their “identities and heal divisions using thoughtful encounters with strangers and an empowered gaze. With great confidence, each has refused to conform. With improvisation and adaptation of both media and spirit, they give representation to those communities who are often unheard. These artists push beyond counterproductive categorizations and fearlessly enter a world of hybridization,” according to the PAAC.


California has more immigrants than any other state, in a country that has a larger immigrant population than any other in the world. The exhibition does not ignore these statistics. The portraits of the immigrant artists allow viewers to easily feel connected by and appreciate history and ancestry. 


Chen presents the oil on canvas painting, “Snail Mail.” Chen grew up between Hong Kong and the United Kingdom. Her current paintings respond to the lack of Asian and Asian American representation in portraiture within our Western art institutions (particularly in modern and contemporary art).  She finds subjects for her portraits within social media communities, and while painting she can learn from her subjects, trying to better understand what it means to be an Asian living in America. She wanted to question the idea of visibility, or invisibility – who gets honored and remembered in history, and who gets erased or forgotten. She talks more about this process in an interview for the series Conversations with Artists in Art Getting Art with Writing alumna Audrey Deng '20.


“I paint in search for the meaning of home,” Chen writes about “Snail Mail.”

Where the Heart Is is currently open through April 3, 2021.

"Snail Mail" alumna Susan Chen ’20