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Universals Albright-Knox 150

150 People | 1 Work of Art | Celebrating 150 Years

In honor of its 150th anniversary, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery commissioned the artists Eric and Heather ChanSchatz to create a unique work of art that will be on view starting December 4, 2012, to celebrate the Gallery’s Founders’ Week.

Through a submission process and lottery drawing, 150 Western New Yorkers were selected to participate in the creation of the work. Each participant met with the artists in Buffalo in May 2012, during which time they completed a specially designed questionnaire and, if they chose, participated in a one-on-one interview with one of the artists. Each portion of the process was recorded on video for the artists’ reference.

For the past five months, Eric and Heather ChanSchatz have been using the information and observations they gathered during their meetings in Buffalo to create 150 unique, hand-painted works—one to represent each participant. These paintings, as well as a video installation created by ChanSchatz, will be on view as part of the Universals Albright-Knox 150 exhibition December 4–30, 2012.

The artists hope this project will bring together “the museum, the community, and artistic methodology in a context of participation, exchange, and collective creation.”

About the Artists

Eric and Heather ChanSchatz (American, born 1968) are based in New York. They have been collaborating for nearly twenty-five years through a creative process that marries traditional approaches to artmaking, including painting and sculpture, with social engagement. In their practice, the artists use a process they developed in the 1990s to create works of art based on information they gather from people who participate in their projects. Participants are asked to select from an array of images, phrases, and color combinations predetermined by the artists, a unique method that serves as the foundation for ChanSchatz’s distinct imagery. ChanSchatz have engaged in series of projects with groups including American soldiers stationed in Iraq, Pennsylvanian coal miners, the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, Millennials, and participants in the Egyptian Revolution, based in Cairo. While they may initially appear entirely abstract, ChanSchatz’s works are in fact dependent upon specific input from the participants as well as the artists’ observations of the participants themselves. Although abstraction is a part of ChanSchatz’s visual language, themes of identity, communal relationships, and socio-political networks are referenced throughout their process of creation. The resulting works of art are surprising, colorful compositions layered with meaningful patterns—abstract portraits of a group of individuals at a precise moment.

Related Exhibition

Universals Albright-Knox 150
December 4–30, 2012

Related Event

Universals Albright-Knox 150 Celebration 
With Eric and Heather ChanSchatz

Friday, December 7, 2012, 7 pm