Living waters and vibrant watercolors

CNU alum Rachel Chung’s art draws from her study abroad experience, mission trip and more

COURTESY OF RACHEL CHUNG

BY KRISTEN ZICCARELLI

There are a lot of studio art graduates in Virginia, but not all of them have grown their talent into a successful business or regularly take commissions from local interest.

Scroll through CNU graduate Rachel Chung’s Instagram and you’ll find a wide-ranging color palate, featuring plants, unique pendants and hand-done paintings. With an aesthetic that features plentiful skies, water and nature, Chung’s art is listed under the name ‘kintsugi,’ a Japanese word with a unique meaning.

Chung defines ‘kintsugi’ as the “art of repairing metal with gold or silver lacquer,” adding that the understanding is that the piece “is more beautiful for having been broken.”

The idea of making formerly broken pottery whole again resonates with Chung, who said she first heard the word and became inspired from a friend while studying abroad in Scotland.

Since then, Chung has expanded her artistic outreach through her website and etsy page, where she sells a variety of hand-made products, including watercolor paintings, pendants, earrings, hair scrunchies, bandanas and more.

Overseas experiences have greatly inspired Chung’s journey and business venture.

Beginning at the end of her Freshman year at CNU, she began making and selling headbands to raise money for a mission trip in Cambodia, aimed at working with non-profit and anti-human trafficking organizations. Her study abroad experience also allowed for ample time for creativity and cultural inspiration.

“In Scotland, the area that I was living in was a very creative space so that was very inspiring for me to create something like this,” Chung said.

Although she works her business as a part-time freelancing job, she expressed her hope to eventually connect with international efforts and help the global issues that inspired her from the beginning.

“An original intent of my business was to help a lot of non-profit organizations that I worked with like refugees in cambodia or anything that combats human trafficking,”  Chung said. “That’s the hope and goal – to be able to use what I do to help with organizations like that.”

In the meantime, Chung has found various ways to grow her business and reach further to develop her artistic aesthetic. Tabling at the CNU Farmers market, along with attending conferences in the US and experimenting with more commissions, Chung says she’s only part way through her journey.

COURTESY OF RACHEL CHUNG

As many artists struggle with opening up their work and displaying their talent, Chung has gradually realized the importance of sharing one’s work, especially through her participation at recent creative arts gathering and conference, “The Breath and the Clay.”

“I’ve been to a lot of conferences before but this was really a conference that changed my life in regards to art and the importance of it,” Chung said. “We don’t have to be afraid to share our work because it’s so meaningful, and after going on that conference I felt really inspired to keep making my art and start sharing my work.”

In fact, Chung first learned to make her pendants from a roommate and friend that showed her how to use resin, the proxy stain that hardens jewelry and makes it feel like glass.

“It was a great idea, and I started painting on small surfaces and putting it inside a pendant so you could wear it as a necklace,” Chung said. “It was something that was different and new and beautiful.”

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