Shiyuan Xu was born in Hangzhou, P.R. China, currently lives and works in Chicago, IL. Shiyuan received her BA in Ceramics from China Academy of Art in 2012, and an MFA from Arizona State University in 2016. She has been awarded several prestigious Artist-in-Residency programs across the US, such as the Archie Bray Foundation, the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, Lawrence Arts Center and Lillstreet Art Center.
Shiyuan is the recipient of 2017 Ceramics Monthly Emerging Artist. She has exhibited nationally and internationally, which includes US, UK, Slovenia, China and South Korea, and her work has been added to the permanent collections at San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts, Archie Bray Foundation, Korea Ceramic Foundation and the National Museum of Slovenia.
My work is inspired by the research of scientific and microscopic phenomena ranging from single-celled organisms in the ocean to diverse plant seeds on land, and to cells, the building blocks of all life form. My fascination with shapes, patterns, structures and textures of these microorganisms stimulates my creation. I reinterpret these visual elements into sculptural forms revealing the intricacy and fragility of the hidden world.
In D’Arcy Thompson’s ‘On Growth and Form’, the form of an object is a ‘diagram of forces’. I see the structure of these micro life forms as traces of their growth and response to the internal and external force. It is about movement, time and space. It records the way they move and grow. The way they react to the surrounding environment by interacting, altering, evolving and adapting to generate infinite new forms.
I hand-build structures with porcelain paperclay, and I use unconventional processes to apply glazes on the sculptural pieces. The materials allow me to push the boundaries of fragility and strength, simplicity and complex, order and chaos, soft and hard. Meticulously, the thin skeletal lines are weaved into a harmonious volume.
The regular and irregular structures and layers also contain the memory of my sensations. They are in many ways like living organisms, reflections of my own life path, and an abstraction of the complexity and delicacy of life itself.