I tried to make to out to the West Austin Studio Tour this year, and unfortunately, this is as far as I got. One gallery, one show, and I had gone to this gallery for the specific purpose of buying a Catalog for WEST. So I figured, while we’re here, let’s see the show.
Here it is: photos with sparkles and stuff, styrofoam towers, lawn furniture and, my favorite, a hand-built geodesic dome complete with bejeweled wasp nests. I was most intrigued by the fact that the panels in the dome were irregularly shaped pentagons and hexagons. That must have been a bear to figure all the wonky angles and construct!
Anyway, I lament the fact that I missed all the painters, esp. the non-objective ones, but there weren’t too many of them anyway….
I’ve had several opportunities to see Beili Liu’s work up close and personal right here in Austin. She teaches at the University of Texas and shows from time to time at one or another of Austin’s galleries. The last show I attended was “The Mending Project” at Women and Their Work in 2011. A room is filled with a cloud of hundreds of Chinese scissors suspended from the ceiling, points down, just over your head. The artist sits below those hundreds of sharp points, calmly mending bits of fabric while the threat of danger hovers very close above her. It’s a very powerful piece, at once menacing and visually stunning.
“Lure/Forest” is one of the works that first drew me to Beili Liu’s work. Thousands of disks made of hand-wound coiled red thread are suspended from the ceiling with a single thread that then drapes onto the floor. The sight of all these disks slowly swaying in the space is quite enchanting, like standing at the edge of a forest of red flowers slightly disturbed by breezes wafting through. Like much of Liu’s work, this installation references an ancient Chinese legend. A related installation, “Lure/Wave” won 3rd Place at Artprize.
Liu creates some very compelling installations and 2D work, and her use of a wide variety of materials is always fascinating, thought-provoking and unexpected.
“My work depends on a genuine connection to the material. By playing with the material—testing, manipulating, experimenting, and examining, even leaving it for months—I watch for the moment of surprise, when the material responds to one or a series of actions, and leads to an exciting physical or conceptual outcome. That outcome itself sometimes becomes the lead into a new project.
As one who comes from the East and lives in the West, I have experienced two distinct and often contradictory value systems. These experiences constantly influence each other, at times create conflicts in my life, and other times offer great inspirations for my work.”
See more of Beili Liu’s gorgeous and intriguing work, and find out about her full list of awards, shows, and accomplishments at her website.