Artist Spotlight: Beili Liu

Austin, Texas based artist Beili Liu.

Austin, Texas based artist Beili Liu.

 

I’m a big fan of Beili Liu. I find her work emotionally captivating and infused with sublime beauty. Born in Jilin, China, Liu lives and works in Austin, Texas and is an Associate Professor of Art at The University of Texas at Austin.

Whether the art is contained to a canvas or manifest on a grander scale as a site-specific installation piece, Liu utilizes the simplest of materials to infuse herself into a compelling narrative experience.

Throughout Liu’s work, I am struck by a delicacy that speaks of vulnerability and yet projects a fearless quality that defies its fragility.

The first work of Liu’s that I discovered were her incense drawings. These works are done by layering rice paper on a board and then “drawing” on the surface with lit incense. This series of eight panels, 26″ x 52″ each, is called Yun Yan.

Beili Liu Incense 1 and 2

Beili Liu, Yun Yan, 2008-2009.  Full panels #8 (left) and #1.

 

Beili Liu, Yun Yan, Incense drawing on paper, mounted on birch panel. 2008-2009

Beili Liu, Yun Yan, 2008-2009. Incense drawing detail.

 

4 Beili Liu, Yun Yan, Incense drawing on paper, mounted on birch panel. 2008-2009

Beili Liu, Yun Yan, 2008-2009. Incense drawing detail.

 

The Mending Project features the artist seated in the center of the space under a thousand pair of suspended shears while sewing pieces of fabric together that viewers have cut from a larger piece and placed at her table.

Beili Liu The Mending Project, Iron scissors, Fabric, thread, needle, mixed-media, 2011

Beili Liu, The Mending Project, 2011.

 

Beili Liu The Mending Project, Iron scissors, Fabric, thread, needle, mixed-media, 2011

Beili Liu, The Mending Project, 2011. View from beneath the suspended scissors.

 

Beili Liu The Mending Project, Iron scissors, Fabric, thread, needle, mixed-media, 2011

The overwhelming situation presented in The Mending Project is balanced and softened by the silent persistence of a simple mending action.

 

 

Another installation favorite of mine is the Lure Series, a site responsive installation  in which Liu creates thousands of coils in red thread and suspends each with the piercing of a needle. As viewers walk through the installation, the coils lift and sway creating a living wave effect.

Beili Liu Lure Series 2008-2013

Beili Liu, Lure Series, 2010 at the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts (UICA) in Grand Rapids, MI.  

 

Beili Liu Lure Series 2008-2012 site responsive installation Thread, sewing needle, dimensions variable, (each coil 2-5" in diameter)

Beili Liu, Lure Series, 2008-2012. Installation detail.

 

Beili Liu Lure Series Fiskars FInland 2009

Beili Liu, Lure Series, 2009, in Fiskars, Finland.

 

 

These Wind Drawings are so beautiful when seen in-person. The artist suspends ink in an alcohol base and drips it onto velum through a straw. She then uses her breath through the straw to move the pigment across the canvas.

Beili Liu Wind Drawings Series 1 Aerophyte #1 Detail

Beili Liu, Wind Drawings Series 1, 2012. Detail from Aerophyte #1.

 

Beili Liu Wind Drawings Series 1 Aerophyte #4 Detail 1

Beili Liu, Wind Drawings Series 1, 2012. Detail in Aerophyte #4.

 

Beili Liu Wind Drawings Series 1 Aerophyte #4 Detail 1

Beili Liu, Wind Drawings Series 1, 2012. Detail in Aerophyte #4.

 

Beili Liu's Wind Drawing Tryptic in a Cravotta Interiors project.

Cravotta Interiors Project – Downtown Eclectic. Beili Liu’s Wind Drawing Tryptic seen on left wall.

 

For more on Beili Liu, check out the articles here and here :

I hope you enjoy this latest in the Artist Spotlight series. Look for more throughout the year.