Amy Chaiklin “a woman artist, painting empowering images of women from the female gaze”

Amy Chaiklin says “I am a woman artist, painting empowering images of women from the female gaze.” She explores femininity with evocative images of mythical and contemporary goddesses. Her current series of present-day goddesses portraits started in 2017 titled “Cultured Pearls Portraits.” Together this group of 150 portraits create a visual documentation of contemporary women curators and artists.

Chaiklin’s “Cultured Pearls Portraits” (Left to Right) Michele Pred (2021), Mickalene Thomas (2020) and Tracey Emin (2021).

Her journey is captivating and her universe both joyful and socially engaged. Amy Chaiklin has worked and lived both in Europe, where she studied with Elaine de Kooning, and New York that she calls home. Her work has been exhibited in group and solo exhibitions, is present in several public art collections and she is a recipient of numerous awards, grants, fellowships and artist residencies.

Amy Chaiklin’s painting “Cultured Pearls Portraits: Artists Guerrillla Girls” will be part of the upcoming exhibition Feminist Connect on view from March 4 – 31, 2022 at Charles Adam Studio Project, a non-profit arts organization founded by gallerist Mr. Charles Adams and located in Lubbock, Texas.

Chaiklin’s Cultured Pearls portrait Guerrilla Girls (2019) and Announcement for Feminist Connect exhibition.


What sparked your interest for the arts and to become an artist? All my life have been drawings and painting. I love colors.  

Amy Chaiklin’s paintings Left to Right Goddess Flora (2007) and Goddess Isis (2013)

You were a student of Elaine de Kooning. What did you learn  from her? 

Elaine de Kooning was my drawing teacher durning the Summer of 1976 in Paris, France when I studied with the New York Studio School. In her class we drew with charcoal sticks on paper from live models. Ms. de Kooning was very interested in teaching us the importance of the line gesture, even the erased line, as she believed the pentimento of the erased line added depth to the drawing.

From Left to Right, Chaiklin’s “Cultured Pearls Portraits: Artists Elaine de Kooning (2019), Kiki Kogelnik (2019), and Emma Amos (2018)

How much of yourself does your work reveal? 

My work reveals a great deal of myself.

I am a woman artist painting empowering images of women from the female gaze. 

Amy Chaiklin

Amy Chaiklin’s “Femme Power Goddess” paintings from Left to Right: She Releases Butterflies for World Healing (2020), She Spreads Her Wings of Love (2020), and Femme Power #2 (2020)

Can you share about your current project Cultured Pearl Portraits? what is your process and how do you pick the  women in the series? 

My ’Cultured Pearls Portraits’ painting project (2017-ongoing) consists of more than 150 portraits that honor the sisterhood of artists and curators that have inspired, influenced, and supported my work. Each portrait is a gift of appreciation. Together these portraits are a visual documentation of the diverse contemporary women artists and curators working today, and those that have come before us to lead the way.
The portraits are sources from photographs that I have taken of each woman or published on social media. It is important for me to paint my perception of each artist’s and curator’s essence by honoring their personal stance, individual hairstyles, and fashion choices. I draw each woman with her eyes facing forward as they each look directly out at the world.

From Left to Right, Chaiklin’s “Cultured Pearls Portraits: Artists Firelei Baez (2019) and Betty Tompkins (2020), and Studio Museum in Harlem Director and Chief Curator Thelma Golden (2019)

Can you share some of the best experiences, the accomplishments you are the most proud of ? 

I have been painting on the theme of female empowerment and sensuality for 40 years. For the last 27 years I have been a practicing artist while also being a mother.

Chaiklin’s Self-Portrait Painting (1991), Superwoman (1996), and Cultured Pearls Self Portrait (2020)

What are your current/upcoming projects?  

Firstly I would like to thank Laurence de Valmy for interviewing me and publishing this interview with images of my artworks in the Curious Frenchy Blog.

I also appreciate my recent opportunities to speak about my work. On February 17, 2022, I presented a virtual talk on my 40+ years art career of painting images expressing female sensuality and empowerment for the members of Less Than Half The Picture Salon hosted by Hall W. Rockefeller. The next day on February 18, 2022, the art historian Bernadine Franco invited me to speak about two of my painting in her lecture titled “When Women Artist are the Image Maker of the Female Nude” that was given in person at The New Britain Museum of American Art. Opening in March for Women’s History month, my work is included in the ‘Feminist Connect’ group exhibition that will be on view from March 4 – 31, 2022 at Charles Adam Studio Project, located in Lubbock, Texas.

Chaiklin’s “Cultured Pearls Portraits” (Left to Right) Artists:Laurence de Valmy (2021) and Art Historian Bernadine Franco (2021)

What is your dream project? 

To collaborate with an art historian and/or curator(s) on a solo exhibition of my work with a published monograph organized by an art museum or art institution. 

To know more :

Check out the artist’s website Amy Chaiklin or Instagram @amychaiklin.

Listen to her interview on the podcast Beyond the paint

Angelia S. Rico

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