Kris Chau: Visual storyteller explores Hawaiian folklore and mysticism in artworks

LA-based artist Kris Chau creates colourful and visually engaging stories of Hawaiian folklore, mysticism, mythology, and magick.

The Hawaii-born artist, who describes herself as a “folk artist”, spends a lot of time researching different forms of folk art and ancient art, and is inspired by the common visual language of indigenous communities.

Kris Chau’s artworks are an expression of her own spirituality, often posing questions that are personal yet universal too. She said: “Making my own mythology helps me deal with my own darkness and light, polarity, duality, relationships, and the world. Folklore is a way of explaining the unexplainable.

“We need symbols and stories to remind ourselves to stay to connected to nature and our own human magic.”

Kris Chau cites storytelling devices in ancient Egyptian and ancient Japanese artistic traditions among her inspirations, which is evident in her own visual storytelling which is a combination of cosmology, art and folklore from antiquity to the present-day comics, and story books.

Growing up in Honolulu, as a kid Kris Chau would copy imagery from comics and mastered the horse illustrations in a Chinese brush painting book her grandpa gave her. In middle school, she produced drawings of superheroes and cartoon characters on request for fellow students and teachers. She left Hawaii to study at the California College of Art and Crafts in Oakland.

Since moving to LA, the artist, who also makes music, has established her own clothing line and co-founded a small design studio in Chinatown, called Day Space Night. 

Kris Chau added: “My artmaking is the sails on my boat. It has taken me around the world, it is my inner compass, my flare signal. It is a language that I’ve learned to speak. As long as I’m drawing for the rest of my life, that’s good enough.”

All Images: Kris Chau

Kris Chau

Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about lifestyle including sustainable and green living


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