Oklahoma artist Emily Chase creates paper sculptures exploring memory, trauma, and the relationships between clothing and identity. Born in 1990, Chase received her BFA in Painting from the University of Arkansas in 2013; that same year she was chosen as a recipient of the Windgate Fellowship from the Center for Craft. Her work has been exhibited in galleries nationally, including Crystal Bridges Museum of Art in Bentonville, AR, the Philbrook and Gilcrease Museums in Tulsa, OK, and at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. From 2017-2019, Chase was a member of the Tulsa Artist Fellowship. Her work explores the fragile nature of memory and the stories we tell about
who we are and who we will become.
The clothes we wear are often our first method of communicating our identity. The visual vocabulary of clothing allows me to investigate ideas about identity without depicting a specific body. Delicate paper garments become portraits and self-portraits; the marks they bear are records of the vital, painful growth we experience in our lives. We keep clothing that has outlived its usefulness—too small, too worn—because these objects become vessels for memory. Pressed against the skin, the garment holds onto its past, even when the wearer is absent.
By creating familiar objects from paper, I remove their utility, allowing them to be seen anew. If they cannot be used, then what stories are they telling us? Their empty forms remind us of the things we hold on to and the things we cannot retain. Through generations grandmother, mother, daughter—we hand these things down, and with them, our memory.
Medium: Mango and mulberry paper, watercolor, thread, crepe paper, floral wire, embroidery scissors, colored pencil, buttons, studs, barn wood, and glass pearls.