Lauren Hana Chai’s Studio Visit for “The Little Death”

In anticipation of ‘The Little Death,’ Lauren Hana Chai takes us into her studio as she finishes up pieces for her upcoming exhibition.

“The Little Death” is a play between sex and death, the desire to live forever but also the inevitable return of our bodies to nature. I was raised by my grandparents and as they are now near death, they talk about leaving this world all the time. When I think about their death, I think about the entirety of their lives, how they lived it, what actions and decisions they did or did not make. I also see their different emotional reactions to it, my grandma: ready to face death and leave this earth, my grandpa: absolutely terrified but does not want to admit it. I reflect on how I want to live my life and how I want to face death in the end through this series with most of my models being people I know or myself. The different stages of decomposition of the bodies are portrayed as an abstract beautiful mess rather than something to be disgusted or fearful of. The symbols I paint frequently, such as the Korean peach and sacred fungus, are tied to symbols of longevity in Korean classical folk paintings. Back then, these paintings were accessible only to the high class but I paint these symbols today for everyone to enjoy, and I truly feel that I am giving my blessings to the person I am painting. More than just an image, it is an energy. The sacred fungus in particular was highly sought after and emperors would send out troops to look for it in the Korean mountains. It was truly believed to give one eternal youth. Today we take psychedelics as a way to transcend our shared human fate. Procreating is also a temporary transcendence of death and ultimately transcending it in the future as well by passing on DNA. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t afraid of death, but there is an invisible thread that links us to our past and connects us to our fellow humans and the rest of nature. This thought alone helps me see my little death as a part of the bigger universe and I feel a little less scared.

Online Schedule of Virtual Events:

Saturday, June 27 at 12:00 noon pacific time we will post the professionally shot video tour of our new exhibitions to our Instagram TV

Saturday, June 27 from 1-2 PM pacific time we will go live on our Instagram to tour our new exhibitions

Sunday, June 28 at 2 pm pacific time we will post a full set of installation photos from both exhibitions to our Facebook and blog

Monday, June 29 at 4 pm pacific time we will share a link to the self-guided virtual tour of our new exhibitions on all of our social networks

Video by Birdman

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