Exposition Art Blog: Experimental Artist Doris Totten Chase

Experimental Artist Doris Totten Chase

Doris Totten Chase (29 April 1923 – 13 December 2008) was an American painter, teacher, and sculptor, but is best remembered for pioneering in the production of key works in the history of video art. She was a member of the Northwest School. In the early days of her career, gender bias was alive and well among the Northwest art establishment, which tended to treat her like a housewife with pretensions. Chase had a substantial career as a painter and sculptor before she set off for New York, where she made groundbreaking videos. Pursuing her art was easier in New York than in the Northwest, where she endured considerable condescension for being female. Her subsequent art, which often championed the cause of women, is some indication of the pain such prejudice caused.

Chase began working in video in the early 1970s, using computer imaging, when video art was new. Chase was encouraged by the video artist, Nam June Paik, to explore video art[3] and during 1973 to 1974, she participated in the Experimental Television Center’s Residency Program.[4][5] Chase began working in video in the early 1970s, using computer imaging, when video art was new. She began by integrating her sculptures with interactive dancers, using special effects to create dreamlike work. Victor Ancona said of Chase's dance videos, "Watching her tapes gave me the feeling of being transported to an enchanted, phosphorescent environment unceasingly in flux, a voyage I will long remember". The "phosphorescent environment" that so impressed Ancona was the Northwest's iridescent light shown for the first time as art turned video. As a video artist, Chase lectured and showed her work abroad under the auspices of the United States Information Agency, for which she traveled to India, Europe, Australia, South America, Czechoslovakia, and Romania. Working with light as her medium, with dancers turned into flowing colored shapes, Chase brought the Northwest sensibility to video. Her particular favorite was a pale blue, similar to the color of the sky in a summer sunset. Highly sensual, her work is fluid and stable while exploring movement in the context of abstract architecture. Chase formed a romantic and professional relationship with composer George Kleinsinger, and he composed the music for 12 of her videos.
In the 1980s, Chase used video to explore other concerns such as a divided mind using a split image, multiple superimpositions suggesting compromises, the drift mode suggesting insecurity. In Glass Curtain (1983), actress Jennie Ventriss anguished over her mother's mental and physical deterioration from Alzheimer's disease.Wikipedia

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