The Queue: Yi Hsuan Sung

The Queue: Yi Hsuan Sung

Get to know the people featured in the pages of our magazine as they share what's inspiring them right now.

Published on Monday, June 28, 2021.
Blog post cover graphic for The Queue featuring Yi Hsuan Sung

Welcome to the Flourish series of The Queue

A biweekly roundup for and by the craft community, The Queue introduces you to the artists, curators, organizers, and more featured in the current issue of American Craft. We invite these inspiring individuals to share personally about their lives and work as well as what's inspiring them right now.

Portrait of Yi Hsuan Sung cupping glowing hanging agar lamp

Yi Hsuan Sung. Photo by Pallavi Padukone.

Capturing the liveliness of nature and the beauty of the unexpected

Yi Hsuan Sung is a textile designer who integrates craft and technology to create biodegradable textiles—and who enjoys discovering the littlest surprises from the natural world. In our Summer 2021 issue, she shares how she uses agar derived from red seaweed to create material for garments, accessories, and lamps. Read more in "Agar Illuminated." @yihsuan_sung

How do you describe your work or practice?
I love to observe nature and be inspired by nature and am always seeking a way of creating that collaborates with nature. As a textile maker, I work like a chef or a florist. In the kitchen, I cook agar into yarns and petals and arrange agar flowers on agar textiles.

Arrangement of semitransparent flower blossoms made from agar in different colors illuminated by a lightbox

Read more about Yi Hsuan's work in "Agar Illuminated." Photo by Yi Hsuan Sung.

The past year has presented many challenges, from a global pandemic to renewed urgency around issues of racial equity and police brutality. As we slowly move into a post-pandemic world, how are you finding beauty and staying grounded?
It was a totally unimaginable year after everything that’s happened. But I got to reflect and examine my way of living, working, and behaving as an individual in the society. Now I am finding beauty in connecting and reconnecting with people, because we never knew it could be so hard.

Two table lamps with agar flower-adorned shades in a arranged beside a concrete wall

Photo by Yi Hsuan Sung.

The theme of the current issue of American Craft is "Flourish." Can you reflect on that theme as it relates to your work and practice?
I can’t think of a more direct way to express “flourish” than through flowers. My practice is all about exploring and capturing the liveliness of full blooms. Having agar flowers vibrantly opening on each piece of my work is where I find flourish. They remind me of nature’s power to revive life energy.

What’s an exhibition or art project you think the world should know about?
I am a fan of UK visual artist Martha Haversham’s paper collage. She makes 2D couture with found objects on paper. Her vision of how things could be reimagined is just beyond and brilliant! @smallditch

Having agar flowers vibrantly opening on each piece of my work is where I find flourish. They remind me of nature’s power to revive life energy.

If you could purchase any artist's craft for your home or studio, whose would it be and why?
I would love to collect works of botanical specimens in my studio. I like how they could also serve as inspiration as I create my agar flowers. I recently dreamt about French ceramicist Elise Lefebvre’s assiettes plates collection decorating my studio! Her work is so clean and refined but still keeps a trace of the handmade. Her paintings pull me into the world of fairytales. @eliseceramique

What’s your favorite social media post you’ve seen recently, and why?
I love all the posts from @stoopingnyc! They shout out the findings of disserted home goods on the street on Instagram, aiming at finding them a perfect owner. They have built a community for people who appreciate the secondhand in NYC. It is an absolute joy to see those would-be trashes becoming others’ treasures again!!

Cover of the Summer 2021 issue of American Craft

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