TZE CHUN IN NEW YORK, JANUARY 2017. MAKEUP: NARS SOFT MATTE COMPLETE CONCEALER IN CREME BRULEE.
It would seem that there are as many art galleries in New York City as there are taxicabs. Standing out within this well-saturated market is Tze Chun, founder of online contemporary art gallery Uprise Art. Her innovative, direct approach to curation bypasses the financial challenges of renting and building a space, and acknowledges the web as an apt showroom for emerging artists. With an internet connection, Uprise Art is accessible to anyone, anywhere, at any time—challenging the notion of insularity within the art world. As a face of Interview x NARS Cosmetics’ “The Art of Throwing Shade,” Chun discusses transitioning from student to entrepreneur, the female team behind her gallery, and the role of style in business.
STARTING OUT: I’ve always been an artist and an entrepreneur. After graduating from Columbia University, I started a modern dance company and served as artistic director. We performed for several years in New York City, held residencies around the country, and toured internationally. I’m the founder of Uprise Art, an online contemporary art gallery that features original works by emerging artists. My first job was actually in the performing arts as a choreographer; I ran the company for several years before moving over to my other love—visual arts.
I studied performing arts, art history, visual arts, and entrepreneurship at Columbia. I always knew I wanted to work with visual artists, but the traditional gallery model and career path didn’t excite me. Around 2011, it became clear that the art world was ripe for change and it was only a matter of time before galleries finally opened up to technology and e-commerce. It was the perfect time to start Uprise Art. As an online gallery, curation could be king, rather than real estate and having the right street-level address. I wanted to focus on cultivating new art collectors and build relationships with emerging artists at an integral point in their careers.
ON SEXISM: Women are underrepresented in the art world, from museum directorships and permanent collections, to gallery representation and auction sales. Uprise Art is female-founded gallery with a women-led team. More than 50 percent of our artists are women, which is very rare in the gallery world.
FEELING EMPOWERED: [I’m empowered when I’m] setting clear goals for the gallery, earning trust and respect from our artists and collectors—seeing the difference we make in the careers of our artists and lives of our collectors.
BEAUTY AND CONFIDENCE: As a curator, I have to be confident in my taste, and as a CEO, I have to be confident in my decisions. I’m focused on cutting through noise and trends, and I look for honest work that has something meaningful to say. My personal style is an extension of that. I am most confident when I look and feel like myself, when my style reflects my taste.
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