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Julie Lai

Workexchange Artist - Past

Artist Statement

When I construct my work, I’m brought back to the resourceful imagination of my childhood. I would collect fragments of paper, cloth and trash from the corners of my family’s basement residence, and improvise clothing and small houses with the found material. With what I could scavenge, I would create a new world that exploded beyond the confines of our immigrant working class home.

My work in sculpture and installation is a continuation of this process: of invention and improvisation, of play and chance encounters. I use the material integrity of clay to examine the building blocks of my identity and lived experiences, including the precarious socio-economic trajectory of the immigrant working class, and the hyperconsciousness that comes with being a nonwhite woman in the U.S. Through this approach, I construct my way out of an assigned socio-political narrative and into an abstract realm of possibilities. My work is my art making process, which is an act of continual re-imagination and a form of resistance.


Julie Lai is a visual artist working in ceramic sculpture and installation. She has been a scholarship student at Anderson Ranch Arts Center, an artist-in-residence at the Vermont Studio Center, and recently an artist-in-residence and recipient of the Jeffrey Greenham Ceramics Scholarship at the Chautauqua Institution School of Art. Lai has exhibited in spaces such as Boundary Art Space in Chicago, IL and Et al. Gallery in San Francisco, CA, with publication features and highlights in KQED Arts, Bad at Sports and Sine Theta Magazine. Lai holds a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

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