• Mother’s House 孃家 | Architecture for Water Cannon Blue 水砲藍
    Cathy Hsiao
    Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago,
    Fall 2020
    Cathy Hsiao

Cathy Hsiao, “Sculpture for Ikebana series, part of the installation Architecture for Water Cannon Blue 水砲藍,” 2020, Chicago. Courtesy the artist

Mother’s House 孃家 | Architecture for Water Cannon Blue 水砲藍 translates diasporic narratives of space into material experimentation and sound, indexed upon the artist’s maternal history, and in response to the Hong Kong protests. In collaboration with Experimental Sound Studio, sound sculptures become vessels of resistance and care, with Hsiao casting building materials with natural dyes to reframe both within a shared knowledge. Curated by Minh Nguyen for what flies but never lands, the project proposes a double translation of cultural objects and spaces, transposing the intimacy of a maternal body against scaled technologies of state power, specifically the use of blue dyes to mark protesters by police. Referencing the vernacular spirit of the Vanna Venturi House and the gated facade of the Forbidden City, Hsiao creates a new series of monuments and ornaments informed by emerging natural dye science, Asian understandings of nature, and her cultural traditions of craft, sculpture, and sound.

Cathy Hsiao's practice reads cultural histories and practices and our common ecology as mutually embedded. Her experimental investigations into casting for sculpture and architecture with traditional textile dyes and building materials unearth empathies between plant and animal extractions such as indigo, avocado, brazilwood, and cochineal, and limestone and other calcium carbonates. Hsiao rereads the canon from this perspective of empathy and aims to build new bodies and spaces of knowledge in her objects. The forms of her flat and low-relief casts reinvent symbols and typologies from her family's diaspora as Chinese-Taiwanese-Americans. She has a bachelor’s from the University of California, Berkeley and a master’s of fine arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she is the recipient of a Merit Society Fellowship. Hsiao was a 2018-19 BOLT resident at the Chicago Artists Coalition and a 2019 Newcity Breakout Artist. Her family currently lives in Hong Kong and Taiwan.