Beijing-based artist Gao Rong sews life-size replicas of everyday objects from Chinese urban and domestic infrastructure. The embroidered sculptures imitate the routine items our eyes often skip over—graffiti-covered bus signs, broken pay phones, and stacks of dirty dishes. Although her works look commonplace, many directly reference scenes or time periods from her life. Level 1/2, Unit 8, Building 5, Hua Jiadi, North Village (2010) is Gao’s imitation of the entrance to a basement apartment she rented while a student in Beijing, and 2012 her installation, The Static Eternity, is a recreation of her grandparent’s tiny rural home.
To create her sewn sculptures Gao first stitches the details of rust and other detritus onto fabric. She then wraps the material around sponges or wooden board, and stiffens the work with metal frames. Adding embroidery to her work is a way for Gao to preserve the traditional skills taught to her as a child, while taking them in a more contemporary direction. “My mother and grandmother made beautiful embroidery,” she explains. “It was their hobby. Unfortunately this skill is no longer valued, so it is being lost.”