Artist Xiaojing Yan's studio feels a world away from the Gladstone, where she's unveiling her newest installation at Come Up To My Room, the hotel's annual alt-design show. Located in the dim basement of her Scarborough townhouse, it's a humble space where she builds grand artworks.
Yan's portfolio includes a dress wired together with a thousand wax Buddhas. She once hung 1,500 Chinese ceramic spoons from a gallery ceiling to create the three-dimensional silhouette of a bridge. But while her media may vary, the message is always about the interplay between identity and a sense of displacement.
"When I first came to Canada, it was very difficult for me to adjust to such a different environment," says the Nanjing-born Yan. "The shock of arrival, the exhilaration of new experience, confusion of cultural belonging and longing for home have strongly impacted my life."
Her Come Up To My Room piece in Room 210 is called Face-to-Face. Through the online community rolia.net, Yan solicited 24 pairs of photographs from other Chinese Canadians, one of the person when he or she lived in China and another after immigrating here. She hand-painted the images on swatches of silk, layering the two sheer pieces on plastic discs suspended from the ceiling to create the feeling of the two identities merging together and the group interacting as a whole.
"Her work is immersive and engaging," says the show's co-curator, Jeremy Vandermeij. "Come Up To My Room tries to bridge art and design. All of Yan's work seems to respond to [its exhibition] space."
Yan appreciates the blurred boundaries between disciplines but was really drawn to participate because of the location.
"I like that the show is in a hotel," she says. "It's a place that's your home but not your home, and that idea fits well with my work."
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