featured artist

Yuge Zhou

At the age of five, Yuge Zhou (周雨歌) became a household name in China as the singer for a popular children’s TV series. Yuge came to the US a decade ago to earn a degree in computer science and subsequently moved into video art and installations. Yuge’s work addresses connections, isolation and longing across natural and constructed urban spaces as sites of shared dreams. She creates immersive experiences through digital collaging and sculptural reliefs. Yuge has exhibited nationally and internationally in prominent art and public venues and is currently an artist at NEW INC, New Museum’s art and technology incubator. Recent awards include Juried Award at ArtPrize 2021, Artist Fellowship Award in Media Arts from the Illinois Arts Council and Honorary Mention in the 2020 Prix Ars Electronica in Linz, Austria. Her work has been featured in various publications such as the New York Magazine and Colossal. Yuge holds a MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a Master of Science from Syracuse University.

What do you see in your work that others don’t?
As an artist, I strip down the meaning of my work by making a series of editing decisions. The viewers see what’s in front of my lens, but in fact I see the entire surroundings of a scene. If the viewers had seen what I had, maybe they would end up with a different interpretation of the work.
How did you decide to pursue this path?
While my early training focused on traditional artistic practice, I subsequently studied technology and computer science because my family felt that it was a more pragmatic direction. Instead of pulling me away from art, it eventually became an unusual gateway to propel me into a more contemporary realm of art making. When I came to the United States, I picked up a camera and started shooting. It wasn’t calculated, almost happenstance. This led me to pursue an MFA at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago where I was able to fuse artistic concepts with the logic associated with technological innovation. This was a circuitous route: I think it shows that there is no formula for finding your passion, and in the end, one’s passions often become intertwined. You just have to pay attention to that inner voice.
What is your biggest barrier to being a creator? How do you address it?
Being exposed to an endless stream of content in a media-saturated internet culture, there is so much interesting work out there but it’s the law of diminishing returns. Sometimes this makes me question whether I am capable of making something that is truly new or effective. I try to turn this kind of insecurity into something more productive by immersing myself into the nuances and details of a project. By doing so, I often realize that I don’t need to worry about being more innovative, but instead trust that innovation comes from within.
What's the most interesting thing about you that we wouldn't learn from your work alone?
I would say it’s my single mindedness and persistence in jumping over hurdles to achieve artistic goals. For example, my crew and I had to cope with extreme weather conditions (i.e. snow storm, flooding…) while filming Love Letters, a three-part dance series portraying courtship rituals in outdoor urban settings. I think this is one of the fun parts of creating the work I do, you always have to be willing to ‘collaborate’ and make the most out of all the unpredictable elements.
What aspects of your work do you find the most fulfilling?
Building meaningful relationships with collaborators and sharing the energy of creating something beautiful together.