Solo Exhibit, 'Scab,' by Xinyi Liu '22 at A.I.R. Gallery

Mădălina Telea Borteș
April 11, 2024

Materiality lies at the heart of Scab, the solo exhibition by Visual Arts alumna Xinyi Liu ’22 on view at A.I.R. Gallery in Brooklyn, NY until April 14, 2024. Throughout the gallery’s space viewers encounter disposable facial wipes that have been transformed into wall hangings, mulberry paper that has been worked and re-worked with acrylic paint, water, woodcut, and gauze, and a good deal of bubble wrap. 

The colors range from chalk white to charcoal. Within that range of color, hues of iridescent green and mauve streak and poke through the facial wipes’ and mulberry paper’s folds. “The muted palette employed in these works mirrors the color of dead skin, evoking the scabs and scars of a healing process,” the Gallery’s press release notes. 

Many of these works are tethered to Liu’s ongoing exploration of wounds and healing. It was during the Covid-19 pandemic, and her experience of quarantine, that Liu began collecting the facial wipes her friends and family used each day, eventually “preserving and dyeing these disposable wipes, imprinting them with the essence of her skin,” to create evocative works that illuminate “the connection between everyday femininity, domesticity, and fragility” in a form that is at once grotesque and delicate, capable of holding the personal and the global. The accumulated volume of these facial wipes “becomes a poignant metaphor reflecting the transient nature of life in the face of global environmental crisis and the inevitable generation of waste during the pandemic.” 

In Scab, Liu visualizes that waste at a variety of scales. Some of the wipes are preserved behind glass frames of approximately 14” x 16” in size, while others have been rolled into coils reminiscent of toilet paper rolls, which Liu has placed along two of the gallery’s walls. 

Xinyi Liu received her BA and BFA from Cornell University and her MFA from Columbia University. The artist’s work has been exhibited at the Visual Arts Center, Nantucket, MA; Salón Acme, Mexico; Lenfest Center for the Arts, New York, NY; Half Gallery, New York, NY; CAFA Art Museum, Beijing; CAA Art Museum, Hangzhou; China Printmaking Museum, Shenzhen; EDA Art Space, Shenzhen; Yrellag Gallery, Hong Kong; Olive Tjaden Gallery, Ithaca, NY; John Hartell Gallery, Ithaca, NY; Mann Library Gallery, Ithaca, NY; Palazzo Santacroce, Rome; Euroasian Art Gallery, Paris; Jugendkunstschule Pankow, Berlin.