The striking art of Chuck Close has returned to the Northwest

You may already be familiar with the captivating portrait work of Chuck Close. Over the decades Close has devoted to his art, he has created a variety of art pieces. Despite the different mediums, sizes, detail, and subjects, the pieces all have one aspect in common – every work produced by Close depicts a human face. Close, now 75, began painting at a young age, dedicating large amounts of time to depictions of large-scale, highly detailed portraits, often self-portraits. He has suggested that his passion for painting faces comes from his prosopagnosia, or ‘face blindness,’ a neurological condition which impacts his ability recognize facial features.

In 1988, a burst artery led to Close being paralyzed from the neck down. Through hard work and painting-focused physical therapy, Close regained partial arm movement. He returned to painting, now with an arm brace to assist him in holding his paintbrushes. Art critics and viewers alike have tried to compare Close’s work from before and after his partial paralysis, which he does not approve of because he sees no difference in his work. Close told the BBC that, “Everyone seems very invested in seeing the work as different, but it’s not.” Referring to an exhibit that tried to compare his work in such a way, Close stated, “[The curator] was asking people to see the difference, and I think people couldn’t.”

In the video below, Close explains the style of painting he developed after what he refers to as “The Event.” Close began using a grid technique to create his larger pieces. Close states that he thinks his interest in using a grid style stems from growing up in the forties with dyslexia, which no one was really aware of back then, and having to independently develop different learning methods. Close elaborates, saying, “I’m often overwhelmed by the whole and I found that if I break things down to small bite size pieces, this big overwhelming problem becomes much more solvable.”

From May 12 to September 5, the Shack Art Center in Everett, Washington will feature the work of Chuck Close. The exhibit, called Chuck Close: Prints, Process, and Collaboration, features 90 prints and proofs by Close. According to their website, the center is a “non-profit organization dedicated to promoting and celebrating the arts for the enhancement of community life.” If you live near the Seattle area, consider taking advantage of this amazing opportunity to view and support Close’s work.

For more information about the Shack Art Center, or their Chuck Close exhibit, you can check out their event page here. If you would like to view more of Close’s work you can visit his website at

This video may begin with a commercial which was not chosen by or for the benefit of Rooted in Rights.

Emily Pate is a third-year student at Seattle University interested in Strategic Communications, learning Spanish, and working with non-profits. Her work for Rooted In Rights is focused on discussing current events in the community of people with disabilities. Her experience previous to Rooted In Rights includes writing broadcasts for KBOO radio in Portland, OR, and managing a neighborhood blog in the Seattle community. In addition to work, Emily enjoys drawing, spending time with her friends and family, and backpacking.