Changing Art with Past Pieces

Sharing ideas and learning from other artists is a solid way to improve and build a creative practice. We recently paired two artists—Jackie Milad and Sichong Xie—with Charlotte area curator Jonell Logan for Creative Shifts conversations on Facebook Live. 

The artists talked about how they connect to their work as it evolves, and their strong ideas about what it means to keep a piece alive and changing. While both Milad and Xie share common ground by building upon previous pieces, they incorporate change into their practice in different ways that are personal to them.

As a mixed media artist, Milad’s artwork evolves, literally, because her pieces physically change over time. She has “archived and had this endless collection of drawings on paper” and uses them instinctively in her collages. Taking pieces from the past to create something new, she believes that including these archived works give new life to the pieces she amassed over the years. “It just made a lot of sense for me to make work that just is continuously evolving and changing.”

Jackie Milad, She Goes Ancient, 2019. Acrylic, flashe, marker and paper collage on hand-dyed canvas; 72 x 68 inches. Courtesy of the artist. Image credit: Joseph Hyde.

Instead of physically adding to her pieces, Xie completely starts from scratch. The performance and installation artist’s Do Donkeys Know Politics series was inspired by a drawing of a donkey her grandfather created, which led to his arrest and incarceration during China’s Cultural Revolution. Xie has worked on this project for years, trying to perfect her drawing to match her grandfather’s, and in the process has turned them into installations and performances. “Each of these projects is one way of my attempts to connect with him,” she says. “I feel performance has a presence in everything we do; and I feel that presence is something I am trying to connect with the past.”

Sichong Xie, Do Donkeys Know Politics, Scaffold Series I, 2020. Installation of SCH 40 steel, wheels, fabric, ink, soap wash stain, cheese borough, HD videos, continuous loop (color/sound). Courtesy of the artist.

Watch both Creative Shifts discussions below.