Nelson Chan

Nelson Chan was born in New Jersey to immigrant parents from Hong Kong and Taiwan and has spent most of his life between the States and Hong Kong. Having grown up on two continents with unique cultures, this immigrant experience has influenced the majority of Nelson’s work. He continues to explore his duality of personal and cultural identity through the medium of photography. He is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, where he received a BFA and a graduate of the University of Hartford, Hartford Art School, where he received his MFA.

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The immigrant experience through explorations of migration, longing, labor, dreams, and sacrifice are the themes that propel my vision. They are rooted in my own life’s identity and experience of being the son of two economic immigrants trying to create and maintain their own version of “The American Dream”. My work is a meditation on the concepts of losses and gains that is congruous to the life of most immigrants; when hope is presented and felt in one’s hands, it quickly slips through your fingers.

For the past seven years, I have traveled between the United States and China photographing the daily operations of my parents’ toy business and their shifting relationship as business partners and lovers. This project is a sequence of images taken in my family’s homes and offices on two continents, in two completely different cultures. Though primarily a story about the unfolding latter half of my parents’ lives, it is also the exploration of my relationships between my family and these places.

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To see more of Nelson’s work visit his website.



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