Dimensions: 22 x 12 x 10″
Media: fired clay with glaze
Wanxin Zhang’s work Selfie uses the figure’s distorted face as a form of commentary on technology in a contemporary context, where the individual’s features have been degraded in a physical manifestation of the effects of social media. Zhang, however, suggests a conflicted relationship with this media by juxtaposing the mottled colors with a delicate underlay of flowers across the face. Zhang implicates a sense of blame within the work by adorning the figure with a pair of Mickey Mouse ears, implying a degradation of the ‘Child’ and the potentially harmful effects on image and identity at the hands of corporations like Walt Disney.
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