As someone from a mixed background of Chinese-Trinidadian and British, Chelsie Coates' practice is greatly self reflective, looking at her own inner struggle and sense of belonging in the world. Her work tackles internal issues of race, passing, cultural appropriation, ethics, and political correctness.
As someone who often passes as white, her work takes recognisable or even appropriated "Chinese" articles such as the fortune cookie, cheongsam, lucky cat, and tries to push the limitations of the object in context to herself, an artist who might pass as white, or might not be deemed Chinese enough to use these pieces without causing offence to the traditions of Chinese culture. A main theme in her work is her deeply personal writings and poems that present more as streams of thought rather than thought out and planned pieces of writing.
Rather than rooting herself in material or process, Chelsie’s work centres around a concept; a continuous question and argument. This is greatly influenced by artists who’s work goes hand in hand as political statements such as Adrian Piper and Ai Wei Wei. Their work influences her to further question ideas of racial ambiguity and the internal crises it causes herself and perhaps many other mixed race people out there.
These concepts have many points in which they overlap and intersect, thus looking at ideas of overlaying racial, political and ethical issues in the world, not only personal affecting the artist, but also that are super relevant today. Her work treads a fine line of appropriation and re-claiming one's culture through pushing medium boundaries in art too. She is currently working on more performative and installation based work to create a more interactive and personalised platform for her artwork.