Passion Beyond Nature and Technology, NYC-based Artist Weina Li

Weina Li (lives and works in New York) uses elements in nature and technology to create immersive, interactive installations, sculptures and videos. Li’s work starts from her exploration of nature, expressing her understanding of the world as well as the state of being. Li received a MFA in Fine Arts from the School of Visual Arts in 2022, and a BFA from the Academy of Art University in 2018. Her work has been the subject of solo exhibitions, You Are The Star, ChaShaMa, New York, NY (2023). The Butterfly of Styx River, Chinatown Soup, New York, NY (2020). A Piece of Red Cloth, 688 Sutter Gallery, San Francisco, CA (2018). Li’s recent residency includes ChaNorth, Pine Plains, NY (2023). The Hortus Spring Residency, Stone Ridge, NY (2023). Li is the author of You Are The Star published in 2022 at Printed Matter.

Into Orbit, Performance Version

Thank you for joining us, Weina. Can you tell us a little about yourself?

As a child, I dreamed of becoming a fashion designer, envisioning myself creating beautiful garments for people to wear. After high school, I headed to San Francisco to pursue fashion design. However, upon completing my bachelor’s degree, a new chapter in my life began to unfold, providing me with the precious time to explore the world and discover another profound passion – art. I went to the School of Visual Arts for my master’s degree in Fine Arts and graduated last summer. I have been living and working in New York for 5 years now.

Moon’s Labyrinth, 16x16x20 in, 2022, credit: Sunhong Park

What brings you to art? Do you have a specific topic or theme that interests you?

For me, art is not merely a career; it is a way of life. It grants me the freedom to delve into diverse fields of interest, nurturing my curiosity, grappling with the intricacies of existence, seeking explanations in science, and mysteriously feeling the source of meaning. Through my art, I strive to engage and connect with my audience, using natural elements and technology to create immersive environments. These spaces are born from my journeys around the world and abstract scenes woven from the essence of poetry. My focus isn’t on looking ahead with technology, but rather, gazing back at humanity, even as we venture into the cosmos. 

Glorious My Eyes Have Seen, 48x25x58 in, 2022, credit: Sunhong Park
Glorious My Eyes Have Seen, 48x25x58 in, 2022, credit: Sunhong Park

Do you have a mentor or piece of advice that inspired your practice?

One of my most significant inspirations in this artistic journey has been Julianne Swartz, whose art has imparted a vital lesson – that while themes, subjects, and materials may evolve, the ultimate goal of artistic expression remains unchanged. Her influence encourages me to explore a world greater than my own, to consider the experiences I can create for other people through interactive works, and to make the work contingent on kindness. 

The Wishing Well, 55x42xceiling height, 2022, credit: Sunhong Park
The Wishing Well, 55x42xceiling height, 2022, credit: Sunhong Park

What does “community” mean to you? How do you see yourself in a community?

To me, “community” holds significance in my artistic journey. It represents a supportive network of individuals who come together to share ideas, experiences, and perspectives, fostering a sense of belonging and interconnectedness. A community is a place where creativity thrives, where artists can learn from one another, collaborate, and contribute to a collective pool of inspiration.

I see myself as both a participant and a contributor within a community. While I am naturally drawn to solitude, being a part of a creative community has been an enriching experience. It provides me with a platform to engage with fellow artists, engage in discussion, exchange thoughts, and gain fresh insights. I find inspiration within this gathering of different minds, and it motivates me to push the boundaries of my own creativity.

You are the Star, size variable, 2022, credit: Sunhong Park
You are the Star, size variable, 2022, credit: Sunhong Park

What are you working on right now?

As my solo show at Chashama draws to a close, I’m excited for the next chapter of my artistic adventure. I plan to go to residencies around the world, delving deeper into its wonders while continuing to make art. I also seek commission opportunities that allow me to engage with active sites and captivate audiences.

Into Orbit, 6 ft circle, 2023, Credit: Sunhong Park

Do you have any advice that you would offer to others?

Eat well, sleep well, and be happy! 

Into Orbit, Installation view

text & photo courtesy of Weina Li

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