Most people walking along the beach enjoy the surf and sand and occasionally take home a shell or two as souvenirs of a lovely day spent at the seaside.
However, the beach is more like an unending jigsaw puzzle box to one astute artist, who uses the boundless forms and colors to create a gorgeous zoo of animal picture mosaics that provide joy to all who view them.
To fill out her days, she and her 10-year-old daughter took to exploring the beaches of Robert Moses State Park, where they began collecting seashells.
Chan soon realized she’d discovered a whole new medium with which to express her talents. She first intended to draw a dozen different creatures to adorn calendar pages, but she acknowledges that her newfound passion has turned into a bit of an obsession.
“Having worked on a small scale most of my life, being able to use my entire hands to sculpt large pieces was truly liberating, especially during such trying times,” Chan said.
From there, she sculpted an array of marine, avian, and terrestrial creatures vast and diverse enough to fill a fantastical zoo using a range of organic materials collected on the shore.
Even though Chan finally decided to relocate her workstation from the beach to a home studio to better focus her artistic vision and give her sculptures more durability, her creative process still revolves around piecing together the parts of her exquisite natural puzzles.
“The seashells are like little jewels to me, each one a mosaic piece finding its place in the big picture,” Chan said.
“I’m inspired by their colors, texture and shapes and even the broken pieces, I find beauty in it.”