Meet Chuck Close, visual artist and presidential advisor

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As a new student to the Seattle University fine arts program, I recently scouted out my university’s extensive art collection that is spread throughout the campus. I was overjoyed when I discovered that in the collection is an original Chuck Close print. I immediately sought it out and found it in the student center atrium.  I stood in front of it in awe.  Chuck Close is a favorite artist of mine for many reasons.  He is one of the most skilled, famous and prolific contemporary artists.

A photograph of Chuck Chose

Chuck Close

He has achieved this status while living with a severe disability.  A spinal artery collapse in 1988 left him paralyzed.  He was mid-career and well on his way to artist mastery before his injury.  He then challenged and taught himself to adapt after the injury.  His greatest achievements and accolades have come after the injury.

The original print that my university owns is a self portrait.  Standing up close to this enormous piece, I observed the construction of the canvas grids for which he is famous.  An example of his genius is the way he created pixels before pixels were famous for technological imagery.  He essentially creates a grid of lines that become tiny squares; each square becomes a separate painting within itself.  Each box consists of individualized line work and colors that when combined with the entire grid of squares becomes a gigantic photorealist portrait.

His self portrait captures and accentuates his sense of pride.  His process is labor intensive and takes a lot of time to complete.  His body of work is original and each piece stands on its own.  His talent, respect and rich repertoire of knowledge has garnered him the recent appointment by President Obama to be co-chair on the President’s Committee on Arts and Humanities.  His job is to advise and assist the President with issues related to the arts and humanities.

Chuck Close’s life is an example of how disability affords the opportunity for ability.  Ability leads to perseverance.    Perseverance overcomes adversity.  Adversity creates a unique and greater foundation of depth from which to work .  This is a process familiar to those of us with disabilities.  Chuck Close embraces his disability.  In return, he inspires other artists with disabilities to believe and succeed in their work.

To view his work, read his artist bio and get inspired, visit the Chuck Close website .  Also, you can view the trailer of Chuck Close:  A Portrait in Progress by clicking on thislink……Chuck Close: A Portrait in Progress