Dimensions: 21 x 11 x 14″
Media: fired clay with glaze and decals
Wanxin Zhang’s fired clay with glaze and decals work, The Godmother, depicts a seated figure, her hands clasped in her lap with a stylized dragon on her right shoulder. By using a decorative image on the woman’s body, Zhang dislodges the figure from a specific temporal placement or age; the work’s title suggests an elderly figure, yet tattoos are often associated with youthfulness. Zhang also challenges traditional perceptions of femininity by distorting the figure’s pink color-ing with hues of black, blue, and yellow—indicating the passage of time in the same way that the pure pigment has been eroded.
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 contempo-rary 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 coun-try—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