Xin Song creates modern paper-cut works that borrow imagery from contemporary magazines. The artist uses the Chinese folk paper technique (originally called Jianzhi) to challenge our taboos, our relationship with society, and the way we think about ourselves. Song builds collages around certain narratives such as current affairs, politics, war, health, beauty, fashion, poverty, luxury, environment, nature, technology, or sex. Many of these topics become paired within her work, such as Sex=Taboo? and Lust Caution.
When collecting images for her collages, Song considers each small piece and its meaning. By adding parts to a whole, worlds within worlds become activated, swirling with subtle messages and coy connections. Ultimately, Song’s work is about finding the importance and value in paper materials because in many ways, they mirror the world around us.
How did you find yourself in the arts – or how did the arts find you?
On a summer afternoon when I was 18, I randomly picked up a small pair of scissors from a table and looked for paper to cut. At that moment, I didn’t know I had begun my paper cutting journey! Every day I made paper cut works, and by the end of the summer I had created over 200 pieces of art. In looking at my finished work piled up all over the floor, I was pleased. In the same year, my work “Modern Paper-cut” was published 7000 times.
Who has been a big influence on you in your career?
My family and close friends, my favorite artists in many fields throughout history, as well as various cultures of different countries; each has inspired and enlightened me.
When you hit a creative block, how do you move forward?
I leave my studio and go to museums and galleries. I walk around and people watch, and try to experience the lives of other people.
What message do you hope your work communicates?
I have been making public art for many years now. While I try to make viewers feel they are familiar with my work, I also try to make them feel the art work is part of them. If they spend enough time with my work, viewers will experience surprises within every turn, such that it feels like a strange yet familiar place. Ultimately, I hope my work connects with its audience.
What has been an important lesson you have learned during your career?
Frustration is part of my journey. I do not give up when I encounter setbacks…obstacles aren’t necessarily bad, as there are always two sides to an issue. When one door closes, inevitably another one will open.
What advice might you give to your younger self?
Find yourself, work hard, and chase your dream!
How do you define success?
The definition of success is to be interpreted by oneself. I’m fortunate to be able to practice what I love, which is to create art. I focus on my passion and when the time comes, what is meant to happen will happen.
See more of Song’s work at xinsong.com.