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Them Sammy Chong

Artist Opening Reception: Them

3S Artspace
319 Vaughn St.
Portsmouth, NH 03801
United States
Phone:(603) 766-3330

Artist Opening Reception Friday, September 28th, 5-8pm.
There will be an Artist’s Talk at 7pm.
Free and open to the public. 


Article 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states, “Everyone has the right to do a job, to a fair wage for their work.” The foundation of the American economy certainly relies on underrated jobs performed by unsung hero-workers. Although the fruit of their labor benefits the American lifestyle, society fails to see and value the individual employee; his or her existence is taken for granted as a cog in the machine. My paintings make visible those who are invisible by honoring them in their humble activities, instead of depicting them as victims or second-class citizens.

Unglamorous jobs are performed by members of the lower social class; immigrants are included in this by default. Tapping into surreal aesthetics, my work features spiritual and mythological entities taking human form in the bodies of hard-working individuals. Their heads represent powerful symbols from different cultures. Underneath each painting lies a collage of photos that could have been taken from each worker’s photo albums. These vignettes show the richness of each culture, and sources of pride: vintage family pictures, folk traditions, patriotic festivities, religious ceremonies, landmarks, traditional dress and dishes. This background signifies the very fabric of cultural identity and individual self-respect.

Delving deeper than just outward looks, we can discover that underrated workers are endowed with a cultural wealth that could be a source of enrichment for all. When social tension based on ignorance and prejudice is running amok, my goal is to bring forth a perspective that invites us to view them in a different light.


Sammy Chong:
Sammy Chong is a first-generation Ecuadorian, from a large artistic family of Chinese descent. In his early adulthood, Chong began a career in Graphic Design, working in an international advertising firm. However, after a near-fatal car accident, he became more aware of, and sensitive to, larger transcendental issues.

Chong completed his undergraduate studies at at Universidad Católica del Ecuador, Quito, Ecuador, and Universidad Javeriana, Bogota, Colombia. He pursued his transcendental interests at the Weston Jesuit School of Theology, Cambridge, earning a Master’s degree. His formal art studies began at the Massachusetts College of Art, and later he received a Master of Fine Arts degree from Tufts University/School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (2012).

The following are recent solo exhibitions of Chong’s work: “The Twelve”, Pelham Arts Center, Pelham Art Center, Pelham, NY (2017); “MINOS: Tribulations of an Imagined or Not Creature”, Level One Gallery, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA (2016); “Tales of [dis]Engagement”, Carney Gallery, Regis College, Weston, MA (2015); “Layered Effects”, Krause Gallery, Providence, RI (2014); “Ex Situ”, ArtSpace Gallery, Maynard (2014).

A selected list of recent group exhibitions in which his work was shown includes: “Facing the Wall”, VETS Gallery, Providence, RI (2018); “The Gig Economy: Depictions of Life and Responses to Work in the Digital Bazaar”, Mills Gallery, Boston, MA (2018); “The Future of Work”, Atlantic Wharf Gallery, Boston, MA (2018); “Space Invaders”, Fountain Street Gallery, Boston, MA (2018); “2017 National Prize Show”, Kathryn Schultz Gallery, Cambridge, MA (2017); “Public Domains”, Chazan Gallery, Providence, RI (2017); “Emerging Artists 2016”, Limner Gallery, Hudson, NY (2016); “Nowhere, Everywhere”, Thompson Gallery, Weston, MA (2016); “25th Annual Juried Competition”, Bowery Gallery, New York, NY (2016).

Chong is the recipient of the following honors and awards: Winner, “Who.Are.You?: (Re)Presentation and Challenge”, Atlantic Gallery, New York, NY (2018); Winner, “The Biennial 2017 Alexander Rutsch Award for Painting”, Pelham Art Center, NY (2017); Juror’s Painting Award, “First Annual Juried Exhibition”, Gallery 334, Milton, MA (2016); 1st Place, “The 3rd Annual Juried Competition”, Milton Art Museum, Canton, MA (2014); The Marie Perry Award, “Celebration of 50 Years”, Bristol Art Museum, Bristol, RI (2014).

Chong’s current professional activities include a position as an Assistant Professor in the Fine Arts Department at Boston College. He teaches Figure Drawing, Portraiture, Painting, and Drawing Foundations courses. He keeps an art studio in Jamaica Plain, MA. His studio practice builds on the concept of social identity in contemporary urban life.