A pretty quick post about the last etching I made in 2016.  I mainly just wanted to post the video beneath, so be sure to turn the volume up, because there are few noises that are sexier than the paper coming off of a juicy aquatinted plate.  This image is a mash-up of Greek gorgons, cyclopes, mythological monsters in general, Victorian Lover’s eyes, and Memento Mori.  I made this etching to go along with three graphite drawings in a similar vein which are named after the three Gorgon sisters.  Edition of 8, $200 each.  Purchase Here.

Black and white etching
Image: 6 x 6 inches
Paper: 11 x 11 inches
Edition: 8

The video below is a print being pulled.  🙂


Hoya Plant: An exercise in neurotic behavior

I love plants.  I really love plants.  If I didn’t have such a rambunctious force of destruction masquerading as a domestic cat, my little studio apartment would be exploding with greenery.  The first plant I bought when moving to Chicago was a Hoya plant and in an open admission of bad parenting, I play favorites.  My sister recently killed her money tree plant, and for Christmas I made her this etching:  A plant that could not be killed.  Edition of 11, e-mail RaeleenKao@gmail for purchase.

Black and white etching
Image: 3 1/2 x 5 inches
Paper: 8 1/2 x 10 inches
Edition: 11

The first step is applying a hard-ground acid resist to the copper plate.  The image is drawn through the acid resist, exposing the copper underneath.  In order to capture all the detail, I use a pair of jeweler’s glasses on top of my day-to-day Coke-bottle lenses.

The entire plate is submerged in acid, which bites into the drawn lines.

Tone in etching is applied by dusting a plate with powdered rosin to create a random dot pattern, which is heat-fused to the plate and also acts as an acid resist.

Detail of rosin fused to the plate. Oooooo shiny.

Ink is applied to the plate, and transferred to pre-soaked paper under the high pressure of the etching press.

Freshly pulled print


The Visceral Hand: “Only Weeds Will Grow”

“Only Weeds Will Grow”
3-Plate etching
Image: 12 x 8 inches
Paper: 18 x 14 inches

Titled after the Victorian belief that, “When a good life was lived, flowers will grow on the deceased grave.  But on the graves of the wicked, only weeds will grow,” this three-plate etching was made for the exchange portfolio, “The Visceral Hand,” organized by Michael Weigman and Joshua Jay Johnson.  27 of these prints went directly into the portfolio, and I have 8 available artist proofs.  E-mail RaeleenKao@gmail.com if you would like to reserve one.

The Visceral Hand

The imagery was inspired by Victorian hair wreaths which were built with hair from deceased family members as a memorial.  As a member of the family died, their hair would be intricately woven and added to the wreath in a bizarre sort of postmortem family tree.

Detail of hair wreath

The entire plate is coated with an acid resist and the image is drawn with an etching needle to expose the copper underneath.  When the entire plate is submerged in acid, the acid bites into the copper where the image was drawn.

Key plate before etching in acid

The blue plate was inspired by Japanese Ukiyo-E woodblock prints.

Blue layer before adding the key plate.

The fade was etched using a creep bite technique where acid is incrementally poured into a tray of water and allowed to “creep” up the plate


Each plate is inked and wiped separately, then printed one on top of another.

3-plate etching
Printing the key layer on top of the sienna and blue layers
Raeleen’s graveyard of prints

The first exhibition of the completed portfolio will open at Rivet Gallery in Columbus, OH.  Full list of participants and exhibition info Here.

December Art Fairs and Exhibitions

Aqua Art Miami : Phylogeny Contemporary

I have three drawings with Phylogeny Contemporary at Aqua Art Miami, November 30-December 4.  Happening in conjunction with Art Basel, Aqua Art Miami is partnered with the Association of Women Art Dealers and I am thrilled to be a part of it.

In Roman mythology, the Parcae were three sisters who personified childbirth and controlled the fates of both mortals and gods. Nona, whose name translates to “ninth” and represents the ninth month of pregnancy, spun the thread of life, Decima, or “tenth”, measured the thread, and Morta, the goddess of death, cut the thread, signifying the end of the person’s life.

These drawings are inspired by the Parcae and influenced by Victorian memento mori. Diseases such as tuberculosis and scarlet fever were rampant during the 1800s, and Victorian society reacted to the constant presence of death by embracing the Roman phrase memento mori, meaning “remember you will die.” This triptych references the Victorian practice of memorializing loved ones through creating jewelry, wreaths, and ink from the hair of the deceased.

Chicago Printmakers Collaborative Small Print Show

I have several prints up at the Chicago Printmakers Collaborative December 2-15.  Gallery hours are as follows:

Preview the show (shop early!):
Friday Dec 2, 12-8pm

Grand Opening Party:
Saturday & Sunday December 3 & 4, 11-7pm both days

Special extended gallery hours:
Tuesdays – Sundays 12-5pm, Dec 6-18 only

Link to Facebook event here.

Alice C Sabatini Gallery : The Printed Image

This printmaking exhibition, which opened on November 4th, was juried by Stephen Goddard, Associate Director, Senior Curator of works on paper, and Professor of art history at the Spencer Museum of Art.  The exhibition runs through December 30.  I am exhibiting two etchings, which are part of an ongoing body of work surrounding poisonous plants and flowers.

Gallery hours:  Monday-Friday: 9 a.m. – 9 p.m. | Saturday: 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. | Sunday: 12 noon – 9 p.m.

There will be a Second Friday event on Friday, December 9, 2016 • 5-8:30 p.m.

Additional information about the exhibition is here.

Verum Ultimum Gallery

I have a couple pieces which will remain at Verum Ultimum Gallery in Portland.  Their next exhibition opens on December 10, 6-8pm.  Please contact FineArtVU@gmail.com for purchase.

The Ministering Angel of Domestic Bliss

Eight layer litho:  “The Ministering Angel of Domestic Bliss” which was part of a lithography exhibition, “The Red Death”, curated by Doug Bosley

20 1/4 x 17 1/4 inches, Edition of 12, $500


This print is part of a project documenting of the history of chemical poisoning which was inherently specific to women and children. Chemical poisoning became widespread starting in the Victorian era when a surge in the discovery of new compounds and the industrialization of cities led to a slew of household innovations. These novel developments lacked regulation and their hazardous nature went undetected to eager consumers. During this time, the Victorian home became known as a “reassuring sanctuary” where cleanliness and the appearance of luxury were prioritized. From arsenic-laced dresses to lead-based paint in children’s toys, these domestic poisons largely affected women and children.

The 18th century invention of Scheele’s Green, a pigment produced from copper arsenite, became wildly popular in the home as well as the garment industry throughout the 19th century. Everything from food to wallpaper to dresses was colored with the bright green pigment, and consequentially leeched arsenic into the skin and respiratory systems of unsuspecting consumers.

The Making of:

Mylars and proofs forever and ever.

Step 1:  Crayon drawing on limestone.

Step 2:  Adding color


The first layer printed was white, for a subtle highlight in the stitches, skeleton, and folds of wallpaper.  The yellow-ochre was printed with two separate plates.  One layer was a blend roll printed diagonally, the second layer was a blend roll with the same colors printed vertically.

Layers 1, 2, and 3: Showing converging blend rolls.

The green was a toner wash etched into an aluminum plate.  This plate was printed twice.  After the first toner wash was printed, the plate was counter etched using Hydrochloric and phosphoric acid, and a second toner wash was applied, darkening the area around the figure.

Continue reading

Giant hand-carved wood panels for HaiSous


For the next several months, I will be working on several 8 ft tall hand-carved panels which will be installed in HaiSous.  A partnership between husband-and-wife duo, Thai Dang and Danielle Dang, HaiSous is an authentic Vietnamese kitchen scheduled to open this Fall 2016 in Chicago.  Please visit their website and follow them on Facebook, Instagram @haisouschicago , and Twitter @haisous for updates on the opening and information about pop-up dinners this summer!

If you are a restaurant or small business (in Chicago or otherwise!), I would love to work with you!  I am currently seeking to collaborate on hand-printed food and cocktail menus, art pairings with multi-course dinners, installations, and any other way you wish to incorporate art into your business.  Please contact me at RaeleenKao@gmail.com

Click through the gallery for progress shots of this project with Haisous.   Below are couple videos documenting the carving process.

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“Cut and Sown” wrap up and SGCI: Portland



Thank you so much to everyone who attended the opening, saw the show while it was up, purchased work, and came to the talk on Saturday! Thank you Joanne Aono for having our art be friends for a month and thank you Stan Klein and Tony Fitzpatrick for providing Chicago’s art community with such an amazing space. It means the world to me to have such supportive people in my life, I would be nowhere without all of you.

Images from “Cut and Sown” can now be viewed here.  There were 12 pieces in the exhibition, and a total of 19 in the series.


I am getting prepared to embark on a road trip with Gabe Hoare and Liz Born from Hoofprint Workshop and Anna Hasseltine.  We will be at the publisher’s fair slinging prints at Hoofprint Workshop’s booth, so please stop by and say hello!  In addition to the publisher’s fair, I am also a part of two exhibitions opening during the conference.






Sightings is a portfolio of thirty prints from thirty artists working with the subjects of cryptids, ghosts, extraterrestrials, and other scientifically unexplained entities.  Thank you AJ Nordhagen and Brittany Kieler for organizing this, I am honored to be included in this portfolio of talented and prestigious printmakers.  More info at SIGHTINGSINPRINT.COM


Kao_R_More Beautiful in Death



My 2-plate etching More Beautiful in Death will be a part of Pull of the Print, a group exhibition of fifty artists working in the medium of printmaking.  These works will be exhibited alongside Beth Kerschen‘s Portland: East Meets West series and Tom Huck‘s Brandy Baghead triptych.  More info at VERUMULTIMUMGALLERY.COM

See you in Portland!



“Cut and Sown” at Firecat Projects

Opening Reception Friday, February 26


Firecat Projects 2124 N. Damen Avenue, Chicago, IL 60647

Please join me for the opening reception of a two-person exhibition of drawings with Joanne Aono

Excerpt from the press release:

Raeleen Kao’s beautifully unsettling graphite drawings are impressions of the body as an object vulnerable to physical and psychological trauma as a result of disease and subsequent treatment.  This body of work entitled, “Show Me Where it Hurts,” is a reference to the use of dolls in medical settings where blank dolls act as a communication tool for children to indicate the location of pain or discomfort.  Kao’s ghostly depictions of dresses disfigured by scars, stitches, and biopsy sites document her experiences from infancy through adulthood which are dominated by hospital gowns and surgical beds.


“Sleeping With Ashes” Opening at Bert Green Fine Art

Thank you so so much to everyone who was able to make it to the opening last night!  It means so much to me to see you all and I can’t express in words how grateful I am to have such supportive family, friends, colleagues, and community.  Photos of the work are now up in the “drawings” section or Here.

If you weren’t able to make it to the opening, the gallery hours for Bert Green Fine Art are Wednesday Thursday Friday 11-6, Saturday 12-5 or by appointment!  I am happy to meet you at the gallery if you wish, just e-mail RaeleenKao@gmail.com  The exhibition runs through October 31st.

“Sleeping with Ashes” is part of Art After Hours during Expo Art Week, an extension of Expo Chicago.  There will be extended hours from 6-9 pm this Friday, September 18th in addition to normal gallery hours.

I will be giving an artist talk at the gallery on October 24th at 4:00pm so be sure to stop by to witness my inevitable paralysis during public speaking events.  😉

Installation shots:

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Some photos from the opening. Not too many, because I was so excited talking to everyone last night. 🙂

Here I am in my natural state: Eating cookies.

Sims + Kao. Open now. A photo posted by Bert Green Fine Art (@bertgreenfineart) on

So happy to send this piece off to it's new wonderful home.
So happy to send this piece off to it’s new wonderful home.
With my amazing sister who comes to all my art events. I am so lucky.