Artist Yen Chu, Winner WNMU John Stermer Art Scholarship

Greetings!  On behalf of John Stermer Fine Art, we would like to extend a huge CONGRATULATIONS to Yen Chu of Silver City, New Mexico!  She is the recipient of the Western New Mexico University (WNMU) John Stermer Art Scholarship for 2022/2023.  And, we would like to share with you some of Ms. Chu’s artwork and her artist’s statement.

Photo portrait of the artist and WNMU John Stermer Art Scholarship winner Yen Chu

Yen Chu Artist’s Statement.

“I create representational art designed to push the boundaries of cultural stigma. I investigate the expression of uncomfortable emotions like rage, helplessness, and shock, as well as the urge to hide or act upon those emotions. Through the visceral act of moving, adding, and cutting material away from a depiction of the figure, I explore the relationship with one’s own body and how traumatic events can become defining moments. Clay, an immortal substance that has played a part throughout the entirety of human history, provides a structure that is already weighted with time and the unrelenting process that is compression and erosion. It is a foundation of resilience.

"Letters" Pottery by Yen Chu, Silver City, NM

My sculptures, in reflecting discomfort, often render the human form at its most vulnerable.  Depictions of the figure convey overwhelming emotion via subtle bodily expressions, and by using multimedia surfaces and objects that carry personal significance, I strive to challenge the limits of what is acceptable to discuss in social settings.

Though often violent, my multimedia methods can also be described as plaintive. They frequently involve incessant repetition, whether in a bowl permanently impaled with thirty x-acto knives or a dismembered torso covered in layers of spray-painted statistics. These obsessive actions imitate a childish frustration, the compulsions of emotional behavior crossing over to the meditative process of art making.

In translating the human condition into something tangible, I aim to initiate confrontation with the realities that go ignored when masked by social standards. By creating works that consume a large emotional space, I intend to make room for authenticity in the ways that we communicate with and understand each other. In this way, there is space for reform and acceptance”.

Yen Chu: "You"; stoneware and Xacto Knives. Silver City NM

More About Yen Chu.

Yen Chu’s works include drawing, sculpture, and pottery.  And, she recently had her first solo exhibition at WNMU’s Francis McCray Gallery of Contemporary Art.  It was a performance piece titled “Potential Energy”.  

On a personal note, Yen Chu was born in Taiwan.  Her family immigrated to the United States where she would eventually graduate from Silver City High School in Silver City NM.  Yen spent her early college years at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.  Prior to her junior year, she transferred to Western New Mexico University in her hometown of Silver City.  About her experience, Ms. Chu says the following:  

As a transfer student from the University of New Mexico, I’ve witnessed the difference between a larger university and a more personal institution like WNMU. I learned very much at UNM, but it is nothing compared to the experience I’ve been lucky enough to gain in Silver City. Because of the campus community and the kindness of the people here, I’ve been able to take advantage of many more opportunities than I saw for myself at UNM, and my relationships with my professors and peers have encouraged me to leave my comfort zone and explore because I feel safe in this environment.”

In addition to the pieces of Ms. Chu’s work shown here, you may find her work on Instagram at @ychustudio.

Pottery By Yen Chu, Silver City NM

About WNMU’s John Stermer Art Scholarship.

In 1995, Lucianna Stermer, the artist’s wife, established the John Stermer Art Scholarship at WNMU.  This was done in conjunction with a retrospective exhibition at the university art department’s Francis McCray Gallery of Contemporary Art.  Proceeds from sells of posters, cards, and catalogs during the exhibition helped to establish the scholarship.  

For someone who wants to apply for an art scholarship, including the John Stermer Art Scholarship, here is the link to the website:

For those of you who would like to donate to the John Stermer Art Scholarship fund, please click on the following link: and follow these instructions:

  • Select or input donation amount
  • Scroll to “Where should your gift be applied?”  and, using the drop-down arrow, select “Specific Scholarship – list scholarship name below”.
  • Further down the page, in the blank “OTHER” space, type John Stermer Art Scholarship.  
  • The same would apply to any scholarship as one wishes.  A listing of other art scholarships can be found at:
  • For those of you who choose to donate to the scholarship fund, we thank you in advance!

Yen Chu, "Whale Jar" white stoneware, glossy white glaze, china paint. Silver City NM

In closing, we wish to extend our congratulations to Yen Chu with our warmest regards!

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