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Ceramics and Bodybuilding: A Fusion of Art and Strength – Exclusive Interview with Kiki (Ziqi) Liu

Ceramics and Bodybuilding: A Fusion of Art and Strength – Exclusive Interview with Kiki (Ziqi) Liu

Moving from her studio based in Metro Detroit, ceramics artist Kiki (Ziqi) Liu has recently relocated to Los Angeles, marking her exhilarating debut at The Other Art Fair , a leading art fair for independent artists. Her work combines modern constructing techniques with abstract elements, featuring elegant colors, dynamic movements, and emotive expressions. This distinctive style not only brings ceramics to life but also invites viewers to personally connect with her art, discovering their own meanings within its layers. Liu’s art is a reflection of a deep appreciation for beauty in its purest form, drawing inspiration from nature and the human physique within modern society. 

In this interview with Liu, we delved into her artistic journey shaped by a dual cultural background, her exploration of ceramics and bodybuilding, and her experience at The Other Art Fair.

How has your experience in both traditional Chinese and Western cultures shaped your artistic journey and influenced your creative process?

Growing up under dual cultural influence has really shaped how I see things. I’ve learned to contemplate from diverse perspectives and appreciate the richness of cultural diversity. Being exposed to two distinct artistic traditions has opened up my creative horizons and enriched my understanding of art. Witnessing the juxtaposition of different artistic expressions has often prompted me to question my preconceived notions of beauty, marking the start of a continuous exploration and evolution of my artistic style. As I navigate between these two worlds, I find myself consistently motivated to create works that resonate with a sense of cultural fusion and universal appeal.

What inspired you to blend weightlifting with ceramic forms in your design?
Those two routines became the most important to me several years ago, and I began noticing striking parallels between weightlifting and ceramics: both embody aspects of discipline, perseverance, and transformation. So, I wondered how I could merge these two worlds together. Thus, the idea was born to blend these seemingly disparate realms into a harmonious piece of art, where the raw power of lifting meets the refined elegance of ceramics.

How do you break down barriers between different areas of study in your artistic expression, particularly in relation to your exploration of ceramics and bodybuilding?
My fascination with ceramics and bodybuilding stems from their shared utilization of the physical body as a means of artistic expression. Both disciplines are inherently motion-based and emphasize the repetition and dedication of daily practice to create beauty. What further intrigues me is the unique yet shared language found in each field: in ceramics, we speak of the belly, foot, neck, and lip of a vessel, while in bodybuilding, we discuss aesthetics, building up, eliminating water, etc. This parallel in terminology underscores the interconnectedness of both disciplines. Moreover, the process of drying ceramics to strengthen the clay body mirrors the physical transformation achieved through bodybuilding, where water weight is lost to reveal sculpted muscle. By breaking down the barriers between these areas of study, I aim to explore the profound connection between artistry and athleticism, highlighting the beauty and power of the human form in both its crafted and cultivated manifestations.

Can you share with us a specific piece or series that embodies your vision?
Within my work, I often explore the intersection of bodily postures and ceramic vessels. One of my most celebrated series, which truly embodies my vision, is a collection created from a blend of various clay bodies. These pieces are adorned with abstract carvings inspired by landscapes and cultural symbols, described as bodily, figurative, organic, and voluptuous. Through these works, I aim to celebrate the beauty of cultural fusion within the human form.

Congratulations on wrapping up The Other Art Fair in LA! Can you share your experience and highlights from the event?
Thank you! The fair was an incredible experience from start to finish. Being able to showcase my work alongside fellow artists and engage with collectors was truly rewarding. Meeting artists from various mediums and diverse backgrounds added a dynamic layer to the event, sparking challenging conversations and building community. From the installation process to the final deinstallation, every moment was filled with positive energy and creativity. Being present throughout the event allowed me to interact directly with viewers, exchanging ideas and insights. For me, facilitating this exchange of thoughts and perspectives is what makes participating in the fair so fulfilling. It’s about more than just displaying my work; it’s about connecting with others and sharing our passions. As the fair ends, I leave not only with new connections and collaborations but also with renewed inspiration to create artwork that resonates deeply with people.

Could you tell us more about the artworks you exhibited at the fair and the response they received from visitors?
Of course. I exhibited a selection of ceramics from my latest body of work, comprising approximately twenty vessels, each imbued with distinct personal touches. Additionally, I showcased three porcelain paintings created using various porcelain slip recipes. Visitors were particularly captivated by the porcelain paintings displayed on the wall, expressing curiosity about the materials and techniques applied. Engaging with them and sharing the laborious and delicate process involved in creating these pieces was gratifying. I highlighted the translucent and fragile nature of the porcelain, which garnered significant attention and sparked meaningful conversations about the intersection of fragility and beauty in art. Overall, the response from visitors was overwhelmingly positive, with many expressing admiration for the dedication and creativity evident in the exhibited works.

What do you hope visitors took away from experiencing your art?
I hope that my art can serve as a moment of tranquility and reflection for viewers. I want them to pause amidst the chaos of everyday life and find solace in the beauty of my work. Through my art, I aim to spark contemplation on the essence of beauty and its boundless manifestations, encouraging viewers to embrace diversity and celebrate the human form.

How does participating in events like The Other Art Fair align with your artistic goals and vision for your career?
These platforms offer me opportunities to connect with fellow artists and engage with a diverse audience, which not only brings me inspiration but also reaffirms my dedication. Moreover, participating in such events allows me to engage directly with a diverse audience, gaining insight into their interests and perspectives. This deeper understanding of my viewers informs my artistic practice, inspiring me to create work that resonates with contemporary society.

How do you envision your art shaping the world around us, and what impact do you hope it will have?
My aspiration is for my art to serve as a source of serenity and tranquility in a world often devoid of joy and celebrations. Through my work, I aim to challenge prevailing beauty standards, offering new possibilities and perspectives influenced by the amalgamation of multiple cultures.
By presenting my unique artistic vision, I hope to inspire others to reconsider their perceptions of art and beauty. Ultimately, I envision my art shaping the world around us by bringing forth a greater appreciation for diversity and individuality, and by encouraging introspection and contemplation. I aspire for my creations to push for positive change, sparking conversations and inspiring individuals to embrace beauty in all its forms.

What do you plan to explore further in the future?
I plan to continue exploring the intricate relationship between ceramics and the human body in the future, pushing the boundaries of clay as a medium for artistic expression. I envision embarking on new projects that draw inspiration from my daily routines and interactions with the world around me. Additionally, I’m particularly interested in delving into themes related to personal growth, priorities, and their subconscious influence on my artistic process. By delving deeper into these concepts, I hope to create artworks that resonate with viewers on a profound level, sparking introspection and dialogue about the human experience.

Are there any ongoing or upcoming projects you can share with us?
I’m participating in a residency in New York this coming July, further exploring the relationship between my physical body and my work. This residency offers a unique opportunity for me to immerse myself among multifaceted artists in natural surroundings. It provides the prospect of collaborative engagement with fellow artists, creating a community and contributing to the rich diversity that makes it unique. This experience promises a departure from traditional gallery spaces or highly curated modern settings, presenting a great opportunity for me to explore new avenues. Such connections directly complement my ongoing body of work, celebrating the human body in its current form and its ever-changing nature. I’m really looking forward to it!


Discover more about the artist at kikiwip.com and @kiki_wip

 

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