Wanxin Zhang – Snow Day
Dimensions: 19 x 12 x 15″ sculpture
Medium: fired clay
Wanxin Zhang’s fired clay work, Snow Day, shows a seated figure, whose discernible features have been erased by a white glaze that has been poured or dripped over the individual’s body. Zhang uses the ambiguity of the work’s identity to critically analyze censorship under the dictatorial Chinese government, where the ability to express individuality and establish a unique voice is often restricted under expressive regulations. The title Snow Day suggests that this physical state is merely transient, as the snow will melt with the fluctuating weather, simultaneous insinuating that the current state of the Chinese government shall also pass with time.
Wanxin Zhang is a Chinese artist who has spent much of his career creating and teaching in the United States, after moving to San Francisco in 1992 to receive his Master in Fine Arts at the Academy of Art University. Zhang’s work often focuses on blurring the line between the past and present; after visiting the Qin dynasty terra cotta warriors, Zhang observed that many of the regulations associated with the oppressive Chinese government were not specific to a contemporary context, but have been implemented throughout Chinese history. Zhang uses his clay works to sustain a critical and analytical dialogue on the political atmosphere within his home country—simultaneously playing with the contrast to western democracy and the artistic liberties it has allowed him. Zhang’s work has been influenced by Bay Area artistic movements such as the figurative and funk movements, and draws from the work of artists like Stephen de Staebler and Peter Voulkos. Zhang’s sculptural works are typically made with clay, which allows him to “push the boundaries of what clay can express” and “to see how [he] can truly incorporate [his] purpose, inspirations, and critiques to reflect life”.
by Keira Seidenberg