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Interview with sculptor Xinyu Zhang

Xinyu Zhang, known artistically as DayDay, is a sculptor and avid material explorer. Her creations articulate a deep desire for connection and reflect a strong, ongoing commitment to overcoming life's inherent fragility. Through her sculptures, which often employ materials like wood, metal, and foam, Xinyu captures the essence of physical endurance and personal discovery.


State of the world  sculpture, 2021 foam, fake grass, plastic, mirror  acrylic 23.5 x.23.5 x 3 inches
State of the world sculpture, 2021 foam, fake grass, plastic, mirror acrylic 23.5 x.23.5 x 3 inches

Xinyu, you mentioned that your artistic journey revolves around exploring inner struggles and a craving for physical interaction. Can you elaborate on how these elements manifest in your sculptures and influence your creative decisions?


The struggles I explore in my art don't emerge suddenly; instead, they accumulate from

many small moments, much like my sculptures, which are composed of numerous small parts assembled into a large, solid form. This construction reflects the deep-seated issues rooted in my psyche, which are difficult to dislodge. The use of metal as

a material further imparts a cold, constrained emotion to my works.


During my creative process, I always keep in mind the thought, "If I do this, it might provoke viewers to delve deeper." In a sense, this thought reflects my own craving for

interaction. It guides my decisions, prompting me to create works that invite engagement and challenge observers to engage not just visually but emotionally and

physically with the sculptures. This desire for interaction not only shapes the thematic

aspects of my work but also drives the tactile and engaging qualities of my art.


State of the world  sculpture, 2021 foam, fake grass, plastic, mirror  acrylic 23.5 x.23.5 x 3 inches
State of the world sculpture, 2021 foam, fake grass, plastic, mirror acrylic 23.5 x.23.5 x 3 inches

Your work 'State of the World' showcases pieces varying significantly in size. How do you approach conveying themes and messages in sculptures of such differing

scales, and what challenges and opportunities arise when working with either very

large or small sizes?


When creating my sculptures, I typically envision the final presentation on a large scale.

Consequently, producing smaller-scale pieces poses unique challenges, particularly in

terms of maintaining a powerful expressiveness through finer details. These smaller

works require meticulous attention to how they cultivate an atmosphere appropriate to

their themes.


Conversely, the primary challenge with large-scale sculptures lies in their production process. Preferring to handle as much of the work myself as possible, I must exercise rigorous planning and organizational skills. Determining the sequence of tasks—

deciding what to tackle first and what to address next—is crucial for successfully managing these larger projects. Each size offers distinct opportunities and challenges,

pushing me to adapt and refine my artistic approach continuously.


State of the world  sculpture, 2021 foam, fake grass, plastic, mirror  acrylic 23.5 x.23.5 x 3 inches
State of the world sculpture, 2021 foam, fake grass, plastic, mirror acrylic 23.5 x.23.5 x 3 inches

Given your interest in physical interaction and the notable size of your recent works,

how does the physical scale of a piece impact the viewer’s interaction and connection with the sculpture?


My approach is quite straightforward: when a sculpture is too large to be fully appreciated from a single viewpoint, viewers might find themselves moving around it,

observing it from different angles. This movement creates a dynamic interaction between the artwork and the audience, engaging them not just visually but physically as well. This interaction is integral to the experience I aim to create, drawing the viewer into a more immersive connection with the piece.


State of the world.02  installation, 2022 cardboard, plaster, plastic, wood (variable)
State of the world.02 installation, 2022 cardboard, plaster, plastic, wood (variable)



You've mentioned planning to explore smaller sizes in your upcoming projects. What motivates this shift, and how do you anticipate it will affect the thematic or emotional resonance of your work?


While I still have a strong desire to create and craft large-scale works, I want to solidify my artistic skills through what I view as practice. By effectively conveying my ideas

through smaller sculptures, I can enhance the visual and emotional impact of my larger

pieces. Mastering the expression of themes and emotions on a smaller scale will only intensify their presentation on a grander scale. This is the goal I aim to achieve.


Where Am I  installation & video, 2022. Wood,  wheel, flocking, foam, paint (variable)
Where Am I installation & video, 2022. Wood, wheel, flocking, foam, paint (variable)


Can you describe your creative process when beginning a new sculpture? Where do

you draw inspiration from, and how do you decide on the form, material, and scale for

each piece?


My latest creative endeavor revolves around my reflections and doubts concerning identity and the environment around me. This theme has recently emerged, partly because when I was in school felt like living in a utopia where everything seemed wonderful in retrospect. Additionally, this year moving to a new city and a new

environment has gradually brought these ideas to the forefront of my mind.


Currently, I am using wood as the primary material for this project. As for the scale, I

use my own body as a reference. I ensure that the sculptures are neither so small that they lose my interest nor so large that they become unmanageable. This approach

helps me maintain a balance between personal engagement with my work and

practical manageability.


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