Wen Liu: Molting / Mending

Roswell Artist-in-Residence 
November 5 – January 15, 2023
Samuel H. Marshall & Donald Winston Gallery  


Wen Liu’s sculptures address loss and abandonment through the modification and assembly of found materials. She started collecting reclaimed furniture and domestic objects to build her sense of belonging and security when she immigrated to the US. The sculptural reinvestment of found objects and the temporal shift of traces from past to present are some of the qualities highlighted in her works. These displacements imply narratives of absence and presence as well as alienation and comfort. 

Her works evoke a sense of bodily form. Reproduction materials, like silicone rubber, act as a skin or shell, capturing a physical encounter with the referenced object. These processes, combined with found materials, set up a dialogue of human presence, subconscious insecurity, repeated consumption, and inevitable temporality. Details in the works are testaments to lived time and memory – the sculptures wear history on their surface, the process of decay called “aging” is built upon them.  

During her time in the Roswell Artist-in-Residence program, Liu experimented and created a new body of work utilizing mold making as a “molting” process of objects, a metaphor for the process insects and some animals traverse to grow and heal. This remedial process is further alluded to by incorporating customary herbal medicines used in her heritage.  

Wen Liu was born in Shanghai, China. She is a City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events (DCASE) Individual Artists Program Grantee for 2018, 2019, and 2020, and she received the Illinois Arts Council Agency 2020 Artist Fellowship Award. She has attended residencies at Artists’ Cooperative Residency & Exhibitions (ACRE) in Chicago, the Hyde Park Art Center in Chicago, the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Vermont Studio Center. Her work has been exhibited at 6018North in Chicago, the Chicago Cultural Center, Lubeznik Center for the Arts in Indiana, Manifold Gallery in Chicago, the National Grand Theater in Beijing, Tiger Strikes Asteroid in Chicago, and Zhou B Art Center in Chicago.


Wen Liu, On Longing, 2021, Installation view, Tiger Strikes Asteroid, Chicago, IL, Courtesy of the Artist 


Wen Liu, The Furthest Holding (detail), 2021, Artist’s Palm Print on Epoxy Clay, Artist’s Father’s Palm Print on Epoxy Clay, Latex Mold on Decayed Tree, Pigment, Courtesy of the Artist