Today we’d like to introduce you to Beili Liu.
Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
I was born in a small village in the Northeast Chinese Province of Jiling. My early childhood was spent running among hand-built adobe houses and sorghum fields. In the late 80’s, my family immigrated to Shenzhen, a southern coastal city a bridge away from Hong Kong. My memory of Shenzhen distills into a restless image of pivoting cranes among burgeoning skyscrapers perpetually redrawing the city skyline. Experiencing the drastic shift from the farm to the city, and a few years later, encountering an entirely new culture when I immigrated to the United States, gave me the nomadic experience shared by many immigrants who inhabit more than one frame of social and cultural references at a time. These experiences, combined with the divergent memories of my childhood have defined my inquisitive and contemplative approach to my work and life.
Please tell us about your art.
I make environments: I once built a Chinese house on the Nebraska prairie; suspended 1500 pairs of iron scissors and sat beneath and sewed; and anchored a 38’ tall native Texas Cedar Elm tree killed by draught in the center of Austin’s Lady Bird Lake, with its bare roots hovering just above the constant-level-water. I am intrigued by the ephemeral and the transfixing. I want to provide my viewers an immersive and meaningful experience that invokes the energy of a place and its history. The underpinning drive of my practice is to gain a better understanding of the resonating human experiences: encounters and separations, displacements and assimilations, the intimacy of memories and the gravity of time.
I am interested in the aura of a space, the passage of time recorded in materiality, and the energy accumulated and embedded in my work through tireless and persistent labor. The ephemeral quality of my materials speaks of impermanence, an underlying truth I see in all things in life. Time acts as a transformative force in my work and the spaces they inhabit. Driven by a passionate commitment to the hand-making process, my work makes use of a broad and diverse collection of materials and assumes fluid forms of installation, sculpture, public art, and performed gestures.
In recent years, I expanded my installation practice, in which the familiar and engrained gestures of making are performed within the environment of my spatial compositions. The artist’s body and the acts of making are present.
What do you think is the biggest challenge facing artists today?
I think the biggest challenge for artists today is to build a truthful and meaningful connection with the rest of the society–to relate to people, the everyday viewers. The capacity of artists working freely is increasingly limited and swayed by the demands of commerce-oriented galleries and the ideology and privilege of institutions. It takes great courage to stay true to one’s own vision. I believe that it is our responsibility as artists to offer an experience that is worthy of the viewers’ attention.
How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
I work from my home studio in Austin TX. I exhibited extensively around Texas, nationally and internationally. Currently, my solo exhibition Sky Well/Como is on view at Museo di Villa Bernasconi in Como, Italy. Two of my installations can be seen at the Chinese Culture Foundation of San Francisco through September.
I have a number of upcoming exhibitions, at Space One Eleven in Birmingham Alabama in September, and at Handwerker Gallery in Ithaca, NY in early 2019. Next summer I will be working as a resident artist at MadArt Studios in Seattle. I will create a large-scale site-specific project for the unique industrial space at MadArt.
Please visit beililiu.com and follow my studio page on FB beililiustudio, and #beililiu.
Beili Liu Studio