Millie Chen studied piano at the Royal Conservatory of Music, Toronto, received her BFA Honours from York University, Toronto, and her MFA in Studio Arts from Concordia University, Montreal.
Chen’s artwork has been shown across North and South America, East Asia and Europe at venues and festivals such as the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, the Centre Culturel Canadien in Paris, Centro Nacional des las Artes in Mexico City, the Power Plant in Toronto, The Contemporary Austin, Shanghai Expo, Hong Kong Asian Film Festival, Toronto Nuit Blanche, and FILE-Rio: Electronic Language International Festival. Chen’s work is in several public collections and she has produced a number of major permanent public art commissions. Her writing has appeared in publications in the U.K., Canada, the U.S. and China. Her work is represented by Anna Kaplan Contemporary.
What is the capacity of aesthetics to convey conflict and trauma? Although this sounds like a cerebral question about the hazards of vision, for Chen it comes from visceral distress produced by an endless stream of injustices and atrocities. A commitment to social justice drives her practice. Her visual, audio and performative works are intended as sensorial experiences that prod the perceptual and ideological assumptions of the audience. Chen utilizes the subversive capacity of image making and non-visual elements like sound, scent, and participatory, collaborative modes of working to interrupt habits of viewing. She is currently working on a relational project, Silk Road Songbook, which integrates songs with landscapes, re-tracing one of the major arteries of the Eurasian trade routes by facilitating the creation of grass roots songs that channel local voices of resiliency and determination.