Iris Yirei Hu

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MFA, Visual Arts
Columbia University School of the Arts, New York, NY 2013    BA, Art
UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture, Los Angeles, CA


“Survival Guide: joy,” Visitor Welcome Center, Los Angeles, CA. Solo  exhibition.
“Con/Safos,” The Bowtie Project at the Los Angeles River, Los Angeles, CA. Two-person exhibition with Sarah Dougherty; organized by Rafa Esparza.
“The Floor and the Cane,” Commonwealth & Council, Los Angeles, CA. Two-person exhibition with David Bell.
“Fourth Wall,” Fourth Wall, Los Angeles, CA. Solo  exhibition.
“Where Do People Live Who Never Die?” Dave Gallery, Los Angeles, CA. Solo exhibition.


“RETREAT,” Moms Gallery, New York, NY “Supercaliforniagilisticexpialibodcious,” Human Resources, Los Angeles, CA
“MFA Thesis Show,” Lenfest Center for the Arts, Columbia University, New York, NY 2016           “Finished Goods Warehouse”, Pfizer Warehouse, Brooklyn,  NY
“First-Year Show,” Wallach Art Gallery, Columbia University, New York, NY 2015            “MONA,”  68projects,  Berlin, Germany
“Colored Girls,” Autonomie Gallery, Los Angeles, CA. Curated by Chelle Barbour.


stutter,” Visitor Welcome Center, Los Angeles, CA. Co-curated group exhibition with David Bell. “Sarita Dougherty presents ‘Cosmology as Creative Practice,’” Columbia University, New York,  NY. Organized lecture and workshop.


2013 – 2015
baumtest quarterly, Los Angeles, CA. Co-founder and editor of Los Angeles based art and writing publication.


”The Past is Now,” Through the Eyes of Artists Poster Series: West Hollywood, CA, Los Angeles County Metro


Nominee, Rema Hort Mann Foundation Emerging Artist Grant, Los Angeles Initiative 2016         Paul & Daisy Soros New American Fellow
Visual Arts Scholarship, Columbia University, New York, NY
YoYoYo Grant, Rema Hort Mann Foundation, Los Angeles Initiative
Nominee, Rema Hort Mann Foundation Emerging Artist Grant, Los Angeles Initiative


Artist-in-Residence, Women’s Center for Creative Work, Los Angeles, CA (forthcoming) 2015        Mountain School of Art (MSA^), Los Angeles, CA


Hyunjee Nicole Kim, “stutter,” Art Practical, October 14, 2017.
Sharon Mizota, “Grief and sacrifice in a dream-like installation in Koreatown,Los Angeles Times, February 4, 2017.
Blanco, Octavio, “Daughter of immigrants challenges the American Dream,” CNN Money, May 5, 2016.
Evan Moffitt, “Con/Safos: Art in the LA River,Paris, LA, March 18, 2015.
Carren Jao, “Con/Safos: Rafa Esparza’s Outdoor Art Space,KCET Artbound, March 4, 2015.
Emily Anne Kuriyama, “David Bell and Iris Yirei Hu: The Floor and the Cane,Young Cloud, August 28, 2014.
Lilly Estenson, “baumtest on Rose Rose Violet,KCHUNG Radio, Los Angeles, CA, June 21, 2014.
Geoff Tuck, “Where Do People Live Who Never Die,Notes on Looking, July 19, 2013.


Written at Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty on my father’s birthday, July 10, 2015,” Notes on Looking: Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, July 2015.
All the Clocks have Stopped at Different Times,” Review of Gilda Davidian’s artist book Picturing Beirut. The Art Book Review: Issue 4, June 2015.
“Vessels,” baumtest quarterly: monumental, November 2014, 48-49.
“Code-switching between Sound/Art and Quito/Los Angeles: An Interview with Jorge Espinosa,” baumtest quarterly: Talk And Talk And—, June 2014. 40-55.
“Where Do People Live Who Never Die?” baumtest quarterly: Of No Known Address, March 2014. 65-71.
“The Struggle is the Destination: Interview with Audrey Chan,” baumtest quarterly: A Germ Grows into Life, December 2013. 38-55.
“Living Transculturalism through Site-Specific Painting, Pedagogy, and Plant Life: A Conversation with Sarah Dougherty,” Graphite journal, Issue 3: The Archival, June 2012. 29-46.


Performance, Moon Flowers don’t need invitations: They require a particular part of night, contemptorary, Human Resources, Los Angeles, CA
Performance & lecture, analog dissident, The Mistake Room, Los Angeles, CA
“baumtest,” Artist Periodicals, panelist (with Thomas Lawson, Shana Lutker, and Lauren Mackler; organized by John Tain), Printed Matter’s LA Art Book Fair, Los Angeles, CA, January 31, 2015.
Lecture, MOCA and Louis Vuitton Young Arts Program, Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Los Angeles, CA, October 16.


Trainer, Visual Thinking Strategies, Los Angeles, CA
2013 (to Present)
Educator, Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Los Angeles, CA
Teaching Assistant, Painting I, Instructor Lauren Silva, Columbia University, New York, NY Teaching Assistant, Drawing I, Instructor Justin Olerud, Columbia University, New York, NY Teaching Assistant, Drawing I, Instructor Heidi Howard, Columbia University, New York, NY
Teaching Assistant, UCLA Summer Art Institute, Los Angeles, CA

Artist Statement

My work insists on myth making as a means to hold space for and to take care of one another. I build installations and make images based on intergenerational and intra-female experiences using painting, sewing, embroidering, collage, and poetry. The work is often colorful, multilayered, and immersive. I am interested in how the visual, sonic and spiritual capacities of myth invite different ways to understand and engage with one another, while creating room for political possibilities.

I have been making allegorical survival guides in the form of room installations: Survival Guide: joy and survival guide: when the Sun devours the Moon. Survival Guide: joy is largely based on the Asian fable of the rabbit in the moon. It tells the story of Monkey, Otter, Jackal and Rabbit gathering food for an old beggar. While Monkey, Otter, and Jackal brought goods to the old man, Rabbit, not knowing what she could offer except grass, threw herself into the fire. Moved by the sacrifice and virtue of Rabbit, the old man revealed himself to be Sakra, and imprinted Rabbit’s image on the moon for the world to see. The myth became the vehicle through which to honor the legacy of my late best friend, poet, and collaborator emi kuriyama, while the framework of the survival guide came to me after reading an apocalyptic poem she had published a few months before her sudden passing. Losing her compelled me to mythologize her legacy, which not only allowed space for grief and memory, but also brought to light the possibilities of love as a generative politic. I saw emi as Rabbit, who sacrificed her life to bring our artistic community closer together through song and image. In response to emi’s poetry, I made large paintings of our love and highlighted our commitment to our shared beliefs in colorful desert landscapes that alluded to loss and longing. Artists and musicians activated the installation by performing open jams and structured improvisations, as well as by facilitating writing workshops and open classes. The fable allegorically reflected emi’s legacy, and the installation transformed into a space for friends and visitors to grieve, to heal, to be intimate, and to be together.

Situating the work in the southwestern American desert is a way to explore transformation through loss, as its particular ecology, as well as geological time and expansive space offer a radically different understanding of human and non-human life that is deep, more careful, and mythical. In survival guide: when the Sun devours the Moon, I asked my mother, a healer, the question: what seeds would we bring with us when the sun devours the moon? She gave me a list of seeds that needed very little water, and organized each seed according to the Five Element Theory of Chinese medicine – earth, metal, water, wood, and fire, each element corresponding to five central organs: the spleen/stomach, lung, kidney, liver and heart. From our collaboration, I made an installation through which poetry and storytelling became vehicles that reoriented how one experiences life, while medicine and ethnobotany opened up possibilities to rethink human and non-human survival. The intersection of the natural world, medicine, and storytelling compelled me to produce an installation with painting, embroidery, and soft sculpture, held together by the deep blue of the night, that grew into an environment where myth making met life making.

I am interested in how matrilineal and female relationships offer a more careful and slower approach to sustenance. My installations and paintings are refuges that are collaborative in their form and exploratory in their potential. They are worlds that offer possibilities to live differently, to grieve, and to heal, while making room for magic.