Klein’s work investigates the role familial histories have on the intergenerational self. Her own immediate family, perhaps a microcosm for the American socio-political landscape, is a personal lens with which the artist interrogates the hold that trauma and fear take on the body, how this manifests, the way it can charge the way we carry ourselves and in turn the way we carry and hold our children, projecting trauma forward. Her work ultimately asks how unshrouding silence around diverse identities and dynamics might help to uproot cycles of harm and aggregate possibilities for healing - vis a vis acknowledging, processing, redirecting through image, ephemera and sound. Klein began working with her hands in painting and sculptural ceramics in 2019 after the 22 month illness and death of her sister as a physical, intuitive and artistic response to the grief from this significant loss. In the years during her sister's illness the artist ceased pursuing commission and exhibition opportunities and instead took on boxing and privately sketching figurative drawings, unconsciously reframing the body as a tool to slash and burn inevitable territory; the loss of the sister and the loss of the self reflected back through the sister’s eyes. In hindsight, using movement of the figure both in the skin and on the page was an attempt at convergence (melting into - wanting to comfort, to hold onto, to absorb, to "become" ) in the face of the ultimate contrary - death. Prior to her sister’s diagnoses in 2017, the artist’s work was primarily comprised of 2-dimensional works incorporating oral/ audio histories, video, photography, projections and archival footage, with a focus on addressing concepts of the other, violence against women, learned male-role behaviors, the queer body and the body memory including the residual and internalized impact of forced silencing, hiding and violence. Her work has and continues to be centered on tracing invisible histories to reform an identity landscape largely inhabited but widely unseen, questioning dominant social and political constructs by asserting individual and collective memory to spin a new history that reveals denied voicing and counters static and normative social identity constructs.
Klein is the recipient of The San Francisco Arts Commission's Individual Artist Commission (2013-2014); her projects have garnered support from The UC Berkley HAAS Scholars Fund (2012); University of Colorado’s Veterans Center (2015); and twice received The Zellerbach Family Foundation's Community Arts Grant (2011, 2014). She was a visiting artist at the University of Colorado Denver in 2015 and her work has recently installed with The International ArtExpo in Venice at Palazzo Ca’ Zanardi, at The Guild Art Gallery (Alibaug, India), A.I.R. Gallery, NYU Stovall Galleries, The Cristin Tierney Gallery and Aperture Gallery (NY.) From 2009-2015 Chelsea was founding director of Descry Arts Projects, a pop up exhibition, publishing and workshop project igniting imaginative social conversations through the arts with programming in San Francisco and New York through which she produced projects with incarcerated male violent offenders and queer veterans and active duty soldiers to name a few. She holds a Masters in Arts Politics from Tisch School of the Arts, NYU and a BA in Photo/Journalism. She lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.