Breaking the Mold: Hailing Liu’s Artistic Fu...

Breaking the Mold: Hailing Liu’s Artistic Fusion of Culture and Commentary

In the bustling streets of Chicago, amidst the whirlwind of artistic expression and cultural fusion, resides Hailing Liu, a visionary artist, animator, and motion designer whose work transcends traditional boundaries. Born in Shenzhen, China, Liu’s artistic journey reflects a delicate dance between personal introspection and societal commentary, interwoven with the playful allure of ice cream. In an exclusive interview with Coffee t&i Magazine, Liu opens up about her inspirations, challenges, and the intricate layers of meaning embedded within her projects.

Hailing Liu

At the heart of Liu’s creative ethos lies a fusion of art and design, a harmonious blend of form and function. Trained in traditional fine art schools, her path diverged as she delved into the realms of animation and motion design, driven by a desire to marry her creative passions with practicality. “Being an animator and motion designer was a choice based on my interest in video contents and practical reasons in finance,” Liu explains. Yet, her journey extends far beyond mere aesthetics; it embodies a quest to navigate the complexities of cultural identity and societal expectations.

As an artist rooted in the cultural landscape of China, Liu’s work serves as a lens through which to examine the nuances of societal change and political discourse. “Some of my works explored and reacted to the social expectations, and the opinions behind them are confrontational and cynical,” she reveals. Through her animations and installations, Liu confronts the viewer with a tapestry of images and symbols, inviting introspection and dialogue on pressing issues. From the rapid urbanization of Shenzhen to the evolving dynamics of family structures, her art speaks volumes about the intricacies of contemporary Chinese society.

One of Liu’s most intriguing projects, “The First United Ice Cream Assembly,” offers a whimsical yet profound commentary on the media landscape amidst the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic. Inspired by the deluge of information and the surreal nature of contemporary news, Liu crafted a fictitious narrative centered around the humble ice cream. “I tried to convey this kind of feeling by making a piece of fake news about ice cream, as well as bringing some humor to get myself and others a bit more relaxed during the crisis,” she explains.

The First United Ice Cream Assembly
Photo / Hailing Liu

In choosing ice cream as the focal point of her project, Liu taps into its universal appeal as a symbol of comfort and nostalgia. Yet, beneath the surface lies a deeper commentary on the absurdity of media representations and the collective yearning for stability in tumultuous times. “Ice cream recalls good memories of a peaceful life,” Liu reflects. “I found it so important to cherish and celebrate small joys of life during the crisis.” Through satire and wit, she invites viewers to question the narratives propagated by mass media and embrace the fleeting moments of joy amidst chaos.

What sets Liu’s work apart is her multi-sensory approach to storytelling, transcending the confines of traditional art forms. By incorporating elements of sound, smell, and space, she creates immersive experiences that blur the boundaries between reality and fiction. “The goal of the immersive, multi-sensory approach was to let the viewers distance themselves from the real world for a brief period, contemplating reality in a fictional environment,” Liu elucidates. In doing so, she invites the audience on a journey of introspection, challenging preconceived notions and prompting critical engagement with the world around them.

Throughout her artistic journey, Liu has navigated a myriad of challenges, from cultural barriers to political sensitivities. Yet, it is her unwavering commitment to authenticity and self-expression that shines through in her work. “Finding audiences and figuring out who my work speaks to is one of the challenges,” she acknowledges. “But I’ve grown to exhibit work online and experiment with online forms since the COVID times, and I think the internet liberates me from those challenges in some ways.”

As Liu astutely observes, “Humor is very efficient in poking things and opening up conversation.” In an era where polarization and division seem to dominate public discourse, her use of satire and wit serves as a powerful tool for dismantling barriers and fostering understanding. By infusing her work with humor, Liu not only invites viewers to engage with complex issues but also encourages them to approach these topics with an open mind and a willingness to challenge their own assumptions.

As we reflect on Liu’s body of work, we are reminded of the transformative power of art to transcend boundaries and unite people from diverse backgrounds. And it seems that ice cream has the same power as well. Just as Liu cleverly navigates the complexities of societal discourse, so too does ice cream melt away differences and bring people together, one delicious scoop at a time.

The photos are from her recent project about generational changes in family history, family structure and urbanization in the context of China.
Photo / Hailing Liu

Hailing Liu’s Fine Art:

Hailing Liu’s Motion Graphics & Animation Design: