In her paintings, Taylor Chapin (b. Encinitas, CA 1991, lives and works in Oceanside, CA) uses bold color, swirling patterns, and enigmatically camouflaged figures to reflect a consumerist society that treats beauty and goods as social currency. As our default setting shifts away from anonymity–thanks to technologies that allow us to broadcast, and often monetize, every detail of our existence–deciphering the parts of us that feel authentic versus appropriated becomes increasingly challenging. In this new body of work, Chapin employs the visual strategies of advertising to reflect on this current moment in which our identity has become our brand.
Tell Me About Yourself includes a series of paintings that each feature a decorative vase presented for display by pattern-covered human arms. The vases are painted as flat color gradients, held lovingly by hands that appear three-dimensional in their realism. The vases are both depthless and infinite, caressed by hands that seem to curve around an absent form. This generates dimensional confusion, which Chapin equates to the merging of our digital presence with our physical selves. Vessels like these have long been associated with the human body; their curves often read as reminiscent of the female form. In Chapin’s portrayal of these vases as late-night shopping channel items, she conflates the objectification of the human form with the fetishization of the object itself. Who, or what, we are selling becomes unclear.
Chapin’s paintings are deliberately overstimulating, almost hallucinogenic, translating the sensation of consumer culture’s oversaturation into visual form. She describes these works as having a reverse-prismatic effect: “the paintings reflect the multitude of internal and external desires that shape our perceptions of the world and ourselves; through the manipulation of perspective, depth, and surface, I convey a momentary sense of clarity before the chaos returns.” This tension echoes Chapin’s own ambivalence as both a participant in and a critic of capitalist consumption. Her subjects are imbued with a similarly paradoxical sense of desire: to exceed and defy society’s expectations, to strive for both belonging and individuality. “Taylor’s work opens up a crucial psychological dimension of our season-long examination of consumption,” says ICA curator Jordan Karney Chaim. “She teases out the surprising vulnerability of the human-object relationship through paintings that are wildly exuberant and seductive.”
Taylor Chapin was born and raised in Encinitas, California. She received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting from San Francisco Art Institute in 2016, and she graduated with a Master of Fine Arts in Visual Art from University of California San Diego in 2022. She has shown her work throughout southern California including a solo show with Oceanside Museum of Art, a showing with Quint ONE, and group exhibitions with Oolong Gallery, False Cast Gallery, and the San Diego Library. She has also recently created public-facing murals in both Leucadia and Oceanside. She lives and works in Oceanside, California.
*Tell Me About Yourself, 64″ x 80″, oil on canvas, 2023