The Chinese-born artist, who’s been in the United States for four years (she came for an MFA program in ceramics at Arizona State), specializes in intricate, delicate, hand-assembled porcelain sculptures that capture the forms of often-hidden natural objects, particularly microorganisms.
“I draw my inspirations from nature, which has created an inexhaustible wealth of wondrous forms, particularly at the microscopic level,” she says in impressively perfect English. “Viewing through the lens fascinates me. It is an unusual experience to observe the diversity of the spectacular hidden world. These microorganisms are too small to be seen by the naked eye, but they have their distinctive existence and beauty.”
Xu interprets scientific facts into art forms. “Primarily, working with porcelain, I hand-build structures with slabs and coils from the inside out. The chaotic lines create the harmonious volume within a single form, generating the unified whole. Experimenting with various glazes, I apply layer after layer, to form and freeze the growing motion,” she explains.
After graduation from Arizona State, she spent a summer working in an art program in Helena, Montana, and then applied for the one-year residency program at the Craft Center. “The Craft Center provides good opportunities to meet people, and openings bring a lot of people in to see the work.” She also serves as adjunct faculty at Houston Community College and, way across town, as a ceramics instructor at the Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center of Houston. “You have to have a car here,” she laughs. “It’s impossible to live in Texas without one.”
Catch Shiyuan Xu now before she’s off to the Lawrence Art Center in Lawrence, Kansas, in a month for her next posting. Or, visit her website at www.shiyuanxu.com.