Working from the studio he shares with his wife, Heather Schatz, in the
meatpacking district of Manhattan, Eric Chan collaborates with Schatz
to do "riotously colored silk-screen paintings" that include
large-scale abstract portraits promoted with their collaborative
signature of 'ChanSchatz'. The couple both teach art at Columbia
University, something they have done since their graduation in 1998.
their joint artwork, they frequently bring in outsiders to advise them
on the creative input, and among their subjects and 'advisees' are
fashion designer Angela Missoni, real estate developer Aby Rosen,
soldiers returned from Iraq, coal miners, storekeepers, skyscraper
inhabitants and museum personnel. Of this working method, Schatz
says: "All kinds of openings and relationships happen when you invite
people in." (104) For a 2006 exhibition in Chelsea, they consulted West
14th Street storekeepers including a doorman and a restaurant manager.
The work with soldiers resulted in a 14-foot long composition that was
narrative and panoramic. From interviewing coal miners who had been
trapped near Somerset, Pennsylvania for three days, they did a piece
reflecting experiences of men nearly losing their lives. In 2008, Aby
Rosen is holding an exhibition of their work in the lobby of Lever
House, which he owns, at 390 Park Avenue in New York City.
was born in 1968, and grew up in Sacramento, California. He did
undergraduate work at the University of California, Berkeley, and met
Schatz there in a drawing class. Halfway through a drawing assignment,
they switched seats and completed each other's work, and from that
time, they have been working together interchangeably.
1990, when they graduated, they began their 'co-creativity' by using
Japanese robots to make small sculptures, and then photographing them
in a variety of poses. By 1995, they were using the computer to
archive thousands of their drawings and scaling the robot images.
Their working method is to sketch forms and other compositional ideas
by hand, and then transfer to the computer using software drawing
programs. From their archive of digital characters, they manipulate
them like 'game pieces', experimenting with all kinds of colors and
patterns "until the elements are ultimately married in a seamless
composition that is scanned and silk-screened." (107)
and Heather Schatz enrolled at Columbia University's MFA program in
1996, and were the first students accepted by the school from a single,
collaborative application. For their thesis show, they initiated a
performance approach of inviting outside participation by making a
variety of objects and asking students to choose their favorites so
that Chan and Schatz could photograph them with their selections.
2005, the Albright-Knox Gallery in Buffalo, New York held an exhibition
of work by ChanSchatz, and the couple invited staff members to choose
vocabulary words relating to abstraction. Then inserting examples of
the meanings of these words, the integrated the selections into a large
painting that was silkscreened on silk. In front of the work, they
placed individual pillows representing the input of each participant.
going influences on the collaborative pieces of these two artists in
the use of colors, textures and designs of Henri Matisse, the use of
scale by James Rosenquist, and social messages of Rirkrit Tiravanija.
Hilarie M. Sheets, "Calling in the Troops", ARTnews, Summer 2007, pp. 104-107