NEAR WEST SIDE — After Diem Chau graduated from a Seattle private arts college in 2002, she felt like she was floundering and chasing after “high art” that she had no connection to.
Now, the Vietnamese artist spends her days carving images into Crayola crayons.
“I see so many other artists…they work towards a body of art that’s not necessarily genuine,” Chau said. “But when I see a carved pit or a tiny walnut with a face on it, I’m like ‘Oh my god, that’s the coolest thing.’”
People who make those little walnuts — the outsider artists — are who Chau identifies with and finds truly inspiring.
“I’ve always had a love of crafty things. Of the folks who have never gone to art school, they just do it because they like it,” she said.
The 34-year-old artist started her work with the crayons — and carpenter’s pencils — in 2005 after picking up an old box of crayons lying around in her Seattle studio.
What followed were mini Blue Green owls and Fuchsia alphabet letters with just a touch of Crayola wrapper to let you know they’d ever been crayons in the first place.
Their buttery texture make the crayons ideal for carving and Chau said it takes on average three to four hours to make one of the mini sculptures. Because of the difficulty of carving graphite, the carpenter’s pencils can sometimes take days to make.
The crayons are up through Saturday at the Packer Schopf Gallery (942 W. Lake St.), but the pieces will also be available to view upon request over the next few months.
Chau also does commissions, so if you’ve always wanted to see your girlfriend’s face carved in Burnt Sienna, the artist encourages you to reach out.