Klytie Xu is an artist and writer from the San Francisco Bay Area. Her interdisciplinary practice includes writing, sculpture, and video, which allows her to work with language as material. She is currently interested in exploring the relationship and tension between text and image. She frequently draws on her family history and personal experience to create pieces about cultural assimilation, the notions of home, and belonging.
My current artistic practice begins with the impulse to use language as material, despite language being a flawed and porous form of communication. This impulse is rooted in my relationship and reaction to the loss of language as a symptom of assimilation as a child of immigrants. I explore the displacement of self by working with and between image and text. By exercising text’s ability to be an object and the image’s ability to be language, I work towards rearranging and recontextualizing narratives of belonging in the intersection of writing and visual art. I use found material to manipulate, transform, and generate more possibilities other than those we are familiar with. My resulting work relies on the unexpected, the mis-translated, the overlooked, and mis-heard. The gaps and fissures of language act like connective tissue in which one’s personal experience can be connected with another’s and in which I can resist mainstream tropes that do not accurately reflect the idiosyncratic (and oftentimes contradictory) nature of individual existence.
In my project, Entering the Through Surface, (the title itself drawn from mistranslation), I use text from my grandmother’s writing in Chinese and English learning workbooks to create new diagrams of language acquisition/experience. I use tracing paper to gradually distort language, one layer at a time, as well as online machine translators to warp meaning. This represents the incommunicability between languages and generations. These visuals accompany my senior project in Poetry, a chapbook that shares the same title.
The 2021 Irwin Scholars are Abby McPhillips, Caroline Alfonso, Cassidy Skillman, Chloe Calhoun, Connor Alexander, Kalen Meeks, Klytie Xu, Louisa Balderas, Lucinda Gold, Saul Villegas, Sydney Geisinger, and Zoe Forsyth.