Larry Li

Larry Li (b. 1998 lives and works in Los Angeles, CA) is a painter whose practice operates in a space of cultural contrast. Merging painting, drawing, collage, and other mediums to create works that visualize his inherited experiences and cultural identity. Li received his BFA from the University of Southern California, Roski School of Fine Arts (2020) and a 2022 MFA candidate from Otis College of Art and Design.
January 4, 2022
Tell us about your practice.
I describe my practice as a personal engagement with my own cultural amnesia. I hope these objects get me closer to a sense of racial and cultural identity as a Chinese American who has to carry the complexities of a diasporic experience.
Your practice spans a lot of mediums from painting to collage, ink, and video. Can you talk to us about your process a little – what determines the medium?
Much of my work is rooted in collage and they originate in a digital space. Whether that is sourcing materials from the internet or using Illustrator to digitally collage images together. From there, it is a process of figuring out how the work can exist in the physical world. For me drawing, painting, and collage are what make the most sense to me, so much of my work will always be a combination of the three.
You’ve spoken about how you source a lot of material from your family, even pulling them directly to help with some of your video works. How has it been bringing them into your process?
It’s been a vital aspect of not only my work but my very being and coming of age. Re-contextualizing old familial histories as content and material has brought a greater appreciation for my inherited experience and helped me understand a history I felt was denied to me because of my family’s immigrant experience.
Your work very strikingly combines personal history with larger historical subjects. What specific historical subject matter calls to you these days?
I am currently working on a body of work that draws from images of the Tiananmen Square Massacre of 1989. I have always been coming back to this event throughout my practice and it has coalesced into a series of works I am making now that confronts my problematic romanticization of a collective trauma endured by my parents and their generation, and how, if at all, it affected the migration of my family.
What has been inspiring you lately?
Always listening to lots of music, check out [Mac Miller’s] “Larry Lovestein and the Velvet Revival.”
What’s next for you?
I’m looking forward to finishing up my MFA at Otis College of Art and Design with my thesis show going up in March. After that it’s one step at a time!

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