With their bright colors, soft surfaces, and dotted patterns, James Hsieh’s plush sculptures beg to be cuddled. Until, that is, you see the set of chompers sewn into each yawning mouth, ready to devour.
Described as an “environmental imagineer” by his alma mater, Parsons School of Design, James uses felt and other textiles to create an alternative version of nature, plucked directly from his subconscious. The multidisciplinary artist developed a fascination with local flora and fauna after growing up on his grandparents’ farm in Taoyuan, Taiwan. “I’ve always been fascinated by how complex and diverse nature is, and the belief that there is an infinite unknown in this world [waiting] to be discovered,” he writes in his artist statement.
Over the years, James’ childhood adventures in Taoyuan’s subtropical climate transformed into “bizarre dreams that opened a door to another hidden dimension.” The bees, butterflies, and ladybugs of his youth are now terrifying and toothy, colorful and cuddly, all at once. Capturing the curiosity of his youth, James transforms drawings and murals into immersive installations jam-packed with plush 3D sculptures. “I often play with scale to activate the perspectives of both adults and kids,” he notes. “My intent is to create an immersive environment that strives to reactivate the viewer's childlike wonderment with nature by producing a sensorial reaction.”
Not just a colorful playground for the kid inside, James’ immersive works are meant to inspire awe and appreciation for the natural world. “As humans, we often forget that we are also living in the ecosystem, a part of nature,” he muses. “Through my practice, I want to arouse and enhance the viewer’s awareness of their surroundings, environment, ecosystem, and nature,” he says. “We must do something other than take.”
“We must do something other than take.” — James Hsieh
All photos published with permission of the artist(s).
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