with Butaoxi Kao
Strings of Pearls Emulate Tears and Form Connections in Intimate Ceramic Sculptures by First of May Studio
For millennia, pearls have been treasured for their luminous sheen and range of hues and were first documented for their use as gemstones more than 4,000 years ago in China. Symbolic of luck, wisdom, and prosperity in cultures throughout the world, these organic orbs have given rise to myths and legends related to divine beings, often said to be fashioned from the tears of mermaids or gods. In Greek myth, it’s said that if a bride wears pearls on her wedding day, she won’t cry. Ceramic sculptures by Butaoxi Kao of First of May Studio build upon this history and express emotions and connection through strings of pearls.
Based in Taiwan, Butaoxi’s background as an illustrator and graphic designer influenced her interest in modeling with ceramic, which she began working with in 2015 following an injury that prompted a new way of thinking about her practice. In the ongoing series Tears are Pearls, she explores the universality of intense feeling and applies the iridescent droplets to express a range of emotions from sadness to frustration, pain to joy. Examining how emotions connect us to one another and to our past, the artist uses pearls in various shapes and sizes, which leak from eyes or link to other figures. Their upper bodies are often shaped into forms that resemble toys or games like jigsaw puzzles or swings.
Several new works are currently on view in a solo exhibition The Crying Game, on view at Yuri Arts in Taipei through October 15, which delves into the connection between childhood and nostalgia, evoking a connection to innocence, play, and deep-seated memories. You can find more work by First of May Studio on Instagram.
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Highlights below. For the full collection click here.