closer, darling – Bacterial Cellulose

Lily Xiao, Painting, 2023

Lily Xiao is a multidisciplinary sculptor and fabricator born in Chicago. They are attending the Maryland Institute College of Art, living and creating in Baltimore, Maryland. Xiao’s recent Solo exhibition in the Gateway Gallery, Faithful Rind, addresses fertility, loss, and transcendence. They have participated in numerous group shows, including at Ritual at the Gateway Gallery, We are Everywhere at Fox Gallery, and Sculpture Symposium at Middendorf Gallery. Xiao curated the exhibition The Space Between Us at Gallery CA, creating a community for BIPOC abstract artists. Their work in curation and sculpture has been reviewed in BmoreArt.  

Project Overview

I am unraveling the ideas of disgust and comfort. The lotus has been a symbol of comfort and rebirth, while the pod that lies under its petals can seem unnerving. Sichuan peppercorn can be the scent of a comforting embrace or an astringent assault to the senses. I am using fragility to understand what draws the lines between scent, etymology, ancesteral veneration, and memory.


Created a vacuum mold of air dry clay lotus pod husk. Dried cellulose around mold. Rolled cellulose around Sichuan peppercorn, held in place with thread, to form stem. Pierced cellulose to form holes for lotus pod. Molded everything together while wet for adhesion.

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