The Center for the Visual Arts (CVA) in Central Wisconsin has recently showcased its latest exhibition, "Root: New Growth," an exploration of fine art inspired by artists' reflections on their roots and artistic journeys. Among the impressive array of works, Xiaoyu Liu, the artist who won 3rd place in the exhibition, brought her installation titled "Near Water" to the visitors captivated by its poignant narrative and intricate craftsmanship.
"Near Water" serves as a profound embodiment of Liu's personal journey, encapsulating her experiences living in cities near water. At the heart of this installation lies a book, which Liu had written earlier, chronicling her encounters and relationship with water throughout her life. This book, an intimate reflection of her connection with nature, is ingeniously reimagined in a pocket-sized format, suspended from the top, with its edges gently caressing the surface of the water below.
The symbolism embedded within "Near Water" is deeply moving. The water, a constant presence in Liu's life, represents both an elusive ghost haunting her and the nurturing soil that sustains her existence. Liu intricately weaves the tapestry of her earliest memories and birthplace into her art. Born on a rainy day on March 24th, 1995, which corresponded to February 24th on the Lunar calendar, she entered the world amidst the burgeoning spring bamboo shoots in Dinghai, the largest island in the Zhoushan archipelago. Her upbringing, steeped in the care of her grandparents, unfolded on Daishan, the archipelago's second-largest island. Despite its size, a mere two-hour drive could circumnavigate it. In those days, the islands were unbridged, their isolation only breached by ferries. During typhoons, they awaited the storm's passing, enduring long waits at the wharf for safe passage.
Through her installation, Liu illustrates the ebb and flow of her personal narrative, revealing the struggle, resilience, and ultimate harmony she has found in her encounters with water. The installation conveys a sense of vulnerability and strength, as the water, once perceived as an adversary, gradually permeates, evades, and ultimately gains control, mirroring the intricate complexities of life itself.
Liu's innovative use of materials further enhances the impact of her installation. Rice paper, delicate and ethereal, weaves together with copper wire, adding a touch of industrial elegance to the overall composition. The marriage of these elements creates a visually captivating and emotionally charged experience for the viewers, inviting them to delve into the artist's psyche and contemplate their own connections with nature and personal histories.
As visitors immerse themselves in the captivating narrative of "Near Water," they are reminded of the power of art to bridge the gap between personal stories and collective understanding. Liu's installation serves as a beacon, guiding viewers to appreciate the beauty in vulnerability and find solace in the shared human experience. In the heart of Wausau, Xiaoyu Liu's "Near Water" continues to resonate, inspiring contemplation, empathy, and connection among all who are fortunate enough to experience its profound depths.
The Center for the Visual Arts, where Liu's compelling installation found its home, stands as a testament to the vibrant cultural scene in Central Wisconsin. Established in 1982 by a passionate group of community members and artists, the CVA has become a cornerstone of creativity and artistic expression in Wausau. Boasting four professional gallery spaces, the institution hosts a remarkable eighteen exhibits annually, showcasing the diverse talents of artists both local and international.