Slowed Growth takes place during the pandemic. Everything is slowed down during this time, from a country’s economy to individual’s daily activity. Yet, the natural world keeps going, slow and steady. Slowed Growth references the evolving motion of the living organisms, and it also references my making process, bit by bit, layer by layer, and one firing after another to complete a single object. It is time consuming but therapeutic.
– Shiyuan Xu
Shiyuan Xu’s fantastic sculptures, hand-built with porcelain paperclay, are inspired by scientific research into microscopic phenomena. These phenomena range from single-celled organisms in the ocean to diverse plant seeds on land, to cells that are the building blocks of all life. She sees the structure of these micro life forms as having been determined by growth and response to internal and external forces, leaving a record of movement in time and space.
Shiyuan’s forms are built by hand and glazed in an unconventional way. The materials she uses allow her to push the boundaries of fragility and strength, simplicity and complexity, order and chaos. She meticulously weaves thin skeletal lines into a harmonious volume. Shiyuan says of this process, “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.”
Shiyuan Xu is currently an Artist in Residence at the Lilstreet Art Center, Chicago, IL. She holds an MFA from Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ and a BA from the China Academy of Art, Hangzhou, P.R. China. Her work is in the permanent collection of the Archie Bray Foundation, Helena, MT; Korea Ceramic Foundation, Incheon, South Korea; San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts, San Angelo, TX and The National Museum of Slovenia, Ljubljana, Slovenia.