Chantal Maltais Oei in her studio. Chantal Maltais Oei.

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A Permanent State of Transcendence: The familiar and the ineffable in the art of Chantal Maltais Oei

by Kathryn M Davis

Chantal Maltais Oei employs the tantalizing mediums of aquarel and ink on paper to create artworks that are characterized by the exquisite delicacy of the butterfly. Like the butterfly’s wings, however, Maltais Oei’s art is not simply charming. Each—the wing and the artwork—demonstrates the weight of its function and history that has evolved the quotidian struggle for growth into ever-changing transformation—a paradoxically permanent state of transcendence. Stitched, chiseled, and collaged, the artist’s mixed-media drawings, paintings and sculptures anchor the oeuvre of this artist, allowing the viewer to bear witness to a process that reflects the marvel of life itself. Nestling within the sweet shadows of our memories, these objects, ranging in size from the monumental to the diminutive, grow into their own strength, coaxing substance from the ineffable.

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Chantal Oei

by Hollis Walker, 2008

Visual artists are often inveterate travelers, in search of adventure, escape, excitement – and, of course, new source material. Paul Gauguin’s travels to Tahiti and his permanent move to the Marquesas Islands come quickly to mind, as do Georgia O’Keeffe’s visits and eventual relocation to New Mexico. But in more recent years a new cadre of traveling artists has developed, artists who rarely alight for long in any one place, but make art wherever they can along the way. It seems silly to identify them by their native countries; they are not really “Argentinean” or “Nigerian” or “Chinese,” but truly global artists.

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