The Primordial Molder
Heidi Lau’s practice centers on the recreation of histories that have been lost to time. Painstakingly built and glazed by hand, her ceramic work is modeled after ritual objects, columns, funereal monuments, and fossilized creatures, while simultaneously infesting, deconstructing, and rebuilding them on a cellular level. Lau uses symbolic artifacts and zoomorphic ruins as symbols of the archaic and the invisible, taking inspiration from colonial architecture and tenement houses in Macau that have mostly been demolished or gentrified beyond recognition. In the process, she continuously reenacts the non-linearity and materiality of the past, molding a tactile connection to the disappearing, impossible identity of home. Colonial history, folk Taoist mythology and provincial superstitions provide essential source material through which her work explores homelessness and nostalgia.
Lau’s terrace installation at Bronx Museum, The Primordial Molder, is a continuation of her large-scale ceramic sculpture series that ruminates on the Taoist creation myth: in the primordial world, Nüwa the Snake Goddess marked the beginning of humanity by patching a giant hole in heaven with five-colored stones, using the legs of a great turtle as pillars to support the collapsed sky from the earth. The Primordial Molder is the representation of Nüwa’s form as a snake that is both anthropomorphic and architectural. Its body curls and tangles around itself to form a ring – a symbol of eternal return and the infinite life cycle.
Heidi Lau grew up in Macau and currently works in Brooklyn. She has been features in exhibitions nationally and internationally in venues such as the Macao Museum of Art, Museum of Chinese in America, Wave Hill, Kniznick Gallery at Brandeis University and Real Art Ways. She has received numerous residencies and awards, including the Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters and Sculptors Grant, Emerging Artist Fellowship at Socrates Sculpture Park, Center for Book Arts Workspace Residency, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Process Space and BRIC Media Arts Fellowship, among others. She completed the Bronx Museum’s Artist in the Marketplace (AIM) program in 2011.