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(Image: Monyee Chau)
(Image: Monyee Chau)
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Artist of the Week: Monyee Chau

Monyee Chau (they/them) is a Seattle-based artist with a BFA from Cornish College of the Arts.

Seattle Refined: How long have you been creating? What mediums do you work with?
Monyee Chau: I have been creating for as long as I can remember. Being an artist was my very first dream job as a child. I remember printing out drawings and then taping them to windows to try and copy and trace them when I was in elementary school. Now, I have the privilege of being able to work across mediums such as painting, illustration, sculpture and printmaking.

Can you tell us about your artistic process and how the different stages work into it?
The processes tend to be different, but I always try to have the most understanding of the concept and intention when making work. I like to think about what are the things I want to communicate before getting started so that it can be a guide to every choice in the work, and then just let it flow. I think trust is an integral part to making sure you let the work come to life.

Tell us about where your inspiration for your art comes from.
My inspiration comes from the things that make me feel joy, passion and healing. I would say "all the antidotes to diasporic feelings" is something that tends to show up in my work a lot — so foods that make you feel back in the motherland, or medicines that your grandmother would share with you when you were feeling sick, or the markets you would go to with your family as a child. All of those things that remind me of a place, of my relationships with my family and with land that feels important to me.

Do you have a specific "beat" you like best – nature, food, profiles, etc.?
I like all of the above! Food and portraits tend to make their way into my work the most because I love how much depth a cultural dish can have and how storied a person can be.

Do you have one piece of art that means more to you or is extremely special to you?
One of my favorite works I created was about my family's Chinese Seafood Restaurant. It's extremely important to me because it helped me understand the ways in which the restaurant served as a second home for me in terms of my cultural identity. It also helped me understand the history of Chinatowns in the US, and what it means to be in a community that has a space due to exclusion and racism, leading me to organize with community groups in Seattle's Chinatown International District — community organizing has become an important part of my life in my art and personal life. So this series titled "Through the Restaurant" has been incredibly pivotal for me.

What experiences in your life have affected your art the most?
Going to school for art allowed me the opportunities and resources to try my hand at all of these different processes of art-making, which has really opened up my world. I'd also say that community organizing that has helped me find so much meaning in what art can do in political movements, and what it means to communicate with the masses.

If we want to see more of your work, where should we go to find it?
You can find more of my work on Instagram, @monyeeart, or on my website,

What is next for you? Anything you're working on right now that you're really excited about?
I have a couple of projects coming up! I just finished a gouache painting series based on the Chinese Zodiac called "Twelve Nights On Heaven's Headrest" which opened on July 29 at Museum of Museums on First Hill. Some of my favorite textile pieces are being shown at "Soft Power" at Tacoma Art Museum with an opening on Oct. 14. I am also working on a mural piece that speaks about the Pacific Ocean and its significance to railroad Chinese and their immigration story at the Tacoma Art Museum opening next Spring.

Lastly, how do you take your coffee? (We ask everyone!)
What a Seattle question! As someone who loves their coffee but has tummy problems, I love a sparkling americano, an espresso over a glass of sparkling water.

About 'Artist of the Week': This city is packed with artists we love to feature weekly on Seattle Refined! If you have a local artist in mind that you would like to see featured, let us know at And if you're wondering just what constitutes art, that's the beauty of it; it's up to you! See all of our past Artists of the Week in our dedicated section.