The joy of memory: Charlene Liu’s work on display at Leach Gallery

The Elizabeth Leach Gallery is currently presenting the work of Charlene Liu, an associate professor and printmaking coordinator at the University of Oregon until April 2.

Liu combines watercolor painting, collage, pen and ink, mechanical processes and printmaking techniques to evoke a feeling of ongoing transition. Most of the pieces are screen print on aluminum. Liu uses digital imagery that she manipulates in Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop to create multiple screens and prints onto gessoed aluminum.

According to the gallery’s press release, “These works embody a joyful side of acculturation—presenting the adaptation and merging of intergenerational heritage with the multitude of potentials contained in materiality and form.”

In one piece, Liu photographed patterns and textiles obtained from her mother’s Chinese restaurant.

“She’s playing on somewhat stereotypical imagery inside her mother’s Chinese restaurant that was in Wisconsin where she grew up,” said Ellen Dean, assistant director of the gallery.

Liu’s work creates colorful, rich patterns and forms that draw from objects of memory, and is a labor-intensive process.

“It’s multi-layered. Not only in the actual print, but the process leading up to it,” Dean said.

This is Liu’s second solo exhibition at the gallery. According to Dean, the response has been positive and attracted many visitors so far.

“I like to see how the gallery really changes with each artist,” Dean said. “Charlene is definitely a very different feel. People appreciate that.”

Marley Melchiorre, one of Liu’s students at the University of Oregon, wasn’t fully aware of Liu’s work, but after looking it up online was excited to see her work in person.

“A lot [of] it reminds me of textile design,” Melchiorre said. “A lot of layering, which I really like.”