PLAYGROUND DETROIT PRESENTS FEATURED ARTIST OUIZI WITH SOLO EXHIBITION AT WILL LEATHER GOODS
Louise Chen aka Ouizi works primarily on a large scale, with subject matter that is in in the realm of ornament and design. Her primary practice stemmed from working as an illustrator and fabricator in Los Angeles, and has since transitioned to murals upon her relocation to Detroit in 2013. With her highly recognized style, her public artworks in Detroit have become so popular that it has brought her opportunities to paint all over the country and occasionally abroad. She is currently working on experimenting with different ideas in her studio and working towards opening a co-operative creative space on the East side of Detroit where she resides.
Ouizi’s whimsical, instantly recognizable illustrations can be found throughout Detroit’s savviest businesses and have quickly become a notable and loved part of the city’s visual landscape. Her work is featured in local independent businesses such as Antietam, Astro Coffee, Brooklyn Outdoor and Red Hook Coffee. Last summer she was selected to paint two large murals in Eastern Market for the first annual Murals In The Market Festival. Over the past few months, Ouizi has been commissioned to travel to other cities such as Iowa City, Iowa, Richmond, Virginia, Raleigh, NC and even abroad in China to spread her flower love. Many of the bouquets and flowers she illustrates each represent various concepts; she explains regarding one of the murals [seen below] in Eastern Market that, “sakura blossoms represent femininity and daisies signify innocence.”
Her aesthetic is inspired by folk, indigenous, and spiritual art, as well as patterns found in nature, and patterns from textiles and wallpaper. What she chooses as her main subject is often what other artists would use in the margins as she places a lot of value on the edges. Mark making and craftsmanship are critical to appreciating her work, both are important to her as she makes a lot of effort in producing harmony between line work, composition, and color. She is always working towards masterful execution in all aspects of her practice, and considers herself more of an artisan than an artist.
Although she is petite and soft-spoken, her visions are wild and effortlessly transport viewers to a serene and pleasant state of being. As many artists, she prefers to work privately in her studio when she isn’t out conquering the walls of the city. Ouizi invited one of our absolute favorite Detroit photographers ee berger [and self-confessed fan] into her world where she dreams up new ideas for her work as she prepares for her upcoming exhibition. In addition to the incredible photoshoot, The Right Brothers created a short film while she painted her mural for her solo exhibition at Will Leather Goods entitled, “Summer Harvest” along with new works which including previously unreleased sketches and paintings.
Where are you from?
I was born in LA and have lived there most of my life. I’m also Shanghainese and most of my family lives in Shanghai. I have lived in Detroit for three years this summer.
What are your mediums of choice as an artist?
Painting is my focus. I mainly use house paint, spray paint, acrylic, pencils, brush pens, ink, colored pencils, and sometimes fiber and wood. Currently, I am very interested in making objects, so that could include wood and screws, but also fabric and glue. Sometimes I get tired of painting and just want to make something else!
How long have you been a practicing artist? Was this always your career path?
I’ve been arting ever since I was drawing cats and trees at three years old. I decided to be a “career artist” when my high school art teacher told me I should look into illustration as a career path.
What inspires you?
Everything, all the time, forever.
Who are influential artists in your life?
I can’t name them all because that is everyone in my life.
What creative processes have you found to be the most successful for you?
I’ve found that working in communal spaces or sometimes being completely alone in nature; listening to good music, lots of natural light, a sea of table space littered with art supplies, a comfy chair, and snacks are ideal conditions.
What is the most important concept(s) or theme that your work revolves around?
Womanhood, patterns, ecology, spirituality, F.U.N. The concepts get whittled down over time and become more fundamental and broad.
How did you choose your alias, “Ouizi?”
The reason why my name is spelled so uniquely is because the spelling derives from the Ouija Board, when I realized I loved the occult and that I didn’t want to be confused with a rapper or a housewife anymore.
What’s your favorite flower or thing to draw?
I love drawing flowers that resemble human body parts.
What’s your current favorite color?
Favorite color right now is peach!
What is the concept behind the work you are making for the Will Leather Show?
I am exploring the marriage of organic forms and pattern work through different mediums and canvases. I like to describe the work with simple juxtaposed word pairings like hard and soft, cold and warm, order and chaos, etc.
What are your upcoming plans for the summer and fall?
I have many mural projects lined up in and around Michigan, and a million other things that don’t pertain to flowers directly.
What do you love about Detroit?
Techno, the citywide friend circle, and the community efforts -those are so unique to Detroit! Some things worth mentioning are the neighborhood farms, businesses that honor their employees, DIY festivals and events, creative crowd-funding, LGBTQ support, think tank nights, potlucks, drawing clubs, neighborhood beautification efforts, group bike rides, co-op work spaces, the diversity of forageable foods, the location on the river and surrounding fresh bodies of water… and SO MANY MORE THINGS!
Name a few of your favorite spots or things to do in the city?
I really enjoy the canals. Especially because you can canoe to Marshall’s Bar.
What are challenges as an artist?
I think the most challenging thing for me is finding the time to make artwork.
Describe what you imagine Detroit to be in 10 years.
Hopefully there will be more grocery stores with healthier options throughout the Metro Detroit area. Hopefully there will be a better public transportation system or more allotted spaces for bicycles, and that the city will be more conducive to cyclists in general. I suspect that it will be a home/destination for artists for a long time to come, but I hope that it also remains/becomes home base for a lot of them!
Ouizi’s solo exhibition at Will Leather Goods opens on July 15th from 6-9PM. She will also lead a talk on August 13th during Second Saturdays from 1-3pm.
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