Exploring physical installation and digital space, Li Yao likens modernity to the experience of an abusive relationship. Through his work Li draws on inter-cultural references to reflect on the familial and educational system in which he grew up in 1990s and early 2000s China.

Among his many projects, Suspension deals with an incident of digital surveillance among family members. Warden/Prisoner presents an architectural inquiry into Li’s obsession with designing prisons during his formal education in China. Red Oil Wonton plays on the loss of meaning in digital iteration and linguistic translation. My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done?  uses water torture as a physical metaphor for familial obligation.

In more recent projects, titled Bunker and Perfect Melon respectively, Li departs from autobiographical references to focus on alternate manifestations of claustrophobic space. Bunker is an architectural fantasy bridging revolutionary references from 18th century France to the 20th century US to 21st century China. It’s meant to let viewers contemplate on  revolution and peace maintained by destruction of self and others. Perfect Melon is a VR installation and performance that incarnates a fictional corporation that claims to use its melon-flavor beverage to reconnect consumers to a romanticized idea of nature.



Resume PDF


Educations

2016--2018
2013--2016
2012--2013
[MFA]
[BFA]
School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL
School of Visual Arts, New York, NY
Ringling College of Art and Design, Sarasota, FL



Exhibitions

2019

2018


2017

2016

2015


2014
Oct
Aug
Apr
Sept

Apr
Dec
Sept
Jun
Mar
Dec

Sept
Sept
July
Fixity Equals Death, The Wrong Biennale
Limitless Space, group exhibit, Minneapolis, MN
Pants Show, group exhibit on pants, San Antonio, TX
Disruptive Generation, Ars Electronica, Linz, Vienna
Animation screening, Mykonos Multimedia Festival, Greece
MFA graduate exhibition, SAIC, Chicago, IL
Über-Marionettes, animation screening, SAIC, Chicago, IL
VR Show, students group show, SAIC, Chicago, IL
International Emerging Artists 2016, New York, NY
The Tide, group exhibit, SVA Flatiron Gallery, New York, NY
BFA Open Studio, SVA New York, NY
Impulses, group exhibit, Williamsburg, NY
Hi Rez/Low Rez, group exhibit, SVA Flatiron Gallery, New York, NY
Art In Clay II : Figurative Speaking, group exhibit, Brooklyn NY
Group show, Jojer Fine Art Framing & Gallery, Hell’s Kitchen, NY



Press Engagement




Bio

Li was born in Guangzhou, and spent of his adolescence in Shenzhen. Both are coastal cities located along the southeast shoreline of China, about 2 hours’ drive from Hong Kong. Li came to United States for formal art training in 2012.

In his early years, in Shenzhen and Guangzhou, Li instinctively rejected formal art education. What he saw in it was all conformity, no creativity; all skills, no taste. He'd borrow my friend's drawing class textbook and teach himself anatomy, but never attend classes. At that time, art for him was an escape from the institution. It represented a getaway from all the senseless subordination that seemed to be replicated everywhere in the society around him.

Li’s formal art academy training only started in college, when he enrolled in Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota, Florida, a school that is famous for training undergraduates in animation and illustration up to the industrial standard for Pixar and Disney. It was a significant change for him, because that was the first time he proactively joined an institution. Moreover, it was Li’s first time to live abroad.

He only stayed at Ringling one year before transferring to the School of Visual Arts (SVA) in New York. Although the foundational skill training in Ringling was invaluable, He didn't want to become a faceless worker behind studio mega productions. He went to SVA to learn more about the New York art world. And he did. At SVA he saw how artists were becoming professionalized and institutionalized in order to sustain themselves. The idea of free-roaming artists walking into any Chelsea gallery and showing their portfolio has already become a fairy tale. Over the course of his studies, art became Li’s way of interacting with institutions and entering society. He started to see art as architecture, art history as a designed product.





Professional Experiences

2019








2018



2017
2015
Nov
Oct
Sept

Jun
Apr
Mar

Feb
Oct

July
Apr

July
Tech Consultant and Installer, Virtual Bauhaus, Chicago, IL
Video Editing Contractor, Open Style Lab, New York, NY
Tech Consultant and Installer, Virtual Bauhaus, Atlanta, GA
Organizing Committee for Commiserate Chicago 2020, Chicago IL
Contributor, VR Dev-Jam workshop hosted by Dr. Brenda Lopez, Chicago IL
Tech Consultant and Installer, Virtual Bauhaus, Daley Plaza, Chicago, IL
Tech Consultant and Installer, Virtual Bauhaus, Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, IL
Lecturer, Discover Design program, Goethe Institute, IL
Tech Consultant and Installer, Virtual Bauhaus, Elmhurst Art Museum, Elmhurst, IL
Guest Lecturer, Jas Brooks’ Virtual Reality class, Chicago, IL
Installer, Snow Fu’s VR installation Kartst, The Other Art Fair, Chicago, IL
Animator, Andre Gibson’s song, Yo’ Love’s Got Me, Chicago, IL
Poster Designer and Translator, Lu Yang’s artist talk at SAIC, Chicago, IL
Teaching Assistant, PhD. Brenda Lopez’s VR class, SAIC, Chicago, IL
Studio Operation Assistant, SVA, New York, NY