Cultural institutions in San Francisco continually search for new acquisitions. Alexis Coe brings you the most important, often wondrous, sometimes bizarre, and occasionally downright vexing finds every Friday.
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Beili Liu's Found will forever alter the Chinese Culture Foundation: The acquisition of 6 frames by the Austin-based artist is the first piece in the permanent collection.
Curator Abby Chen had been interested in acquiring a piece by Liu since 2008, when Lure, an installation, made its stateside debut at the gallery. Found relates to Lure, which the Chinese Cultural Foundation would also like to see in the archives, but the process of procuring donations and purchasing works is a necessarily slow and discerning process.
"Ideally, we would like to collect more of Beili Liu and artists like her, as she is one of the more prominent artists living in the U.S., but of course with any collection, it will take time and patience to cultivate artists and supporters of her work," said Chen.
Found is proudly displayed at the entrance of the Foundation's CCCArts gallery. According to Chen, visitors' reactions have been positive. Those who frequent the gallery understand the piece to be a part of a "rebranding," which will involve more contemporary art. Perhaps, however, not everyone understands that the Foundation does not plan on parting with the piece anytime soon, as offers on the work have been made.
In addition to starting a collection and drawing in new visitors, Found serves a research function. It documents the process of creating artwork, and an artist in formation. "For the artist," Chen explained, "her work is very collaborative and informed by reactions to her previous pieces, and her work as an artist has grown since her solo show in 2008."
Found can only be fully appreciated in person. Liu used mercerised cotton thread, hand-coiled into connected disks. Liu, who was born in Jilin, China, is now an associate professor of Art at the University of Texas at Austin, and that national duality is seen in her work. The connected pairs reflect the ancient Chinese legend of the red thread: When children are born, they are connected with the ones they are fated to be with in this life.