Michelle Li, Interdisciplinary Sculpture, 2025
Michelle Shengyu Li (b. 2003, Vancouver, Canada) is a Chinese-Canadian interdisciplinary artist. Through sculpture, paper, print, and installation, she explores the poetics of restorative practices and Asian diasporic mythos. Her practice addresses themes of object agency, privacy, ecology, futurity, and belief. Meditating on natural, cultural, and built environments, her work acts as offerings of attention and care.
“god’s eye / god in a seed” explores the intersections of biofabrication, AI technology, the human hand, and theology. How do we interact with that we do not know? How do we interact with that which seems to know us too well?
Continuing from my bacterial print under the same image and title, I was interested in how to carry these conversations into the realm of folk craft and culture. To do so, I decided to experiment with turmeric anthotypes with the bacterial cellulose. The turmeric is yellow yet after being exposed and developed with sodium bicarbonate, turns to a reddish more flesh-like tone. I was interested in how the final image, created through the Sun, looked like skin.
For the anthotypes I had two options: either submerge the bacterial cellulose in the turmeric solution before drying it out, in hopes that the solution replaces the water content or, like paper apply the solution onto the bacterial cellulose after it has dried. I tried both and ended up having more success with the latter (with the “god’s eye” / “god in a seed” image). The former took extra long to dry, did not hold the negative image when exposed at all, and eventually molded (with the hand holding the ginkgo leaf).
I printed some clear negatives with typical cyanotype negative clear sheets and an inkjet printer and exposed the bacterial cellulose under the UV light. (More accurately, Ryan helped me expose them under the UV light because I wasn’t able to make it to the lab at the time. Thank you, Ryan.)
For the pre-dried cellulose which did expose well, I then developed the image in a sodium bicarbonate solution, as you would a typical turmeric anthotype and let it dry.
Outside of this class, I have been working with bamboo and my own handmade paper to make kites. Using this craft knowledge, I created a structure in reference to god’s eye weavings and crosshairs which feels reminiscent of an older culture yet is actually about our current culture within these new technologies.
Instagram: @michellesyli / @michelleliart