Fresh AiR: Meet Danni Xu

LILLSTREET ARTIST IN RESIDENCE:

DANNI XU, METALSMITHING & JEWELRY

METALSMITHING, JEWELRY & Glass RESIDENT 2018 / 2019

Danni XU joined Lillstreet in September as our resident artist in the MEtalsmithing, Jewelry & Glass Department. Danni is a recent graduate student from Indiana University Bloomington with a BFA in Metalsmithing and Jewelry Design. Danni enjoys spending time in her studio working on limited production work and hoping to create one-of-kind hand fabricated jewelry line in the future. Her body of work ranges from wearable art jewelry to installation art.

“I keep the philosophy less is more as one of present in my Metalsmithing and Jewelry Design practice. Through my personal narrative I seek to forms that are simple and organic, each with details that pull the viewer closer, which was the connection that I am trying to build with the viewer.  I am currently working on my BFA thesis show for the Spring of 2018 with the focus on my personal wellness story.” – Danni

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Lillstreet Resident Artists always bring in some of the freshest, most creative perspectives into our department. i know you’re inspiring our community, and we’re only two sessions into your residency. What are you teaching now?

I am currently teaching First-Time Metalsmithing and First-Time Enameling. I enjoy teaching both of the class so far!

(Note our catalog is constantly changing. View all of Danni’s current classes here.)

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Finish this statement:
You know you’re an artist when________________.

“You are constantly thinking about refining your design/new works.”

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That comes as no surprise, considering your work has such strong exploratory elements to it. As resident artists at Lillstreet, you have every opportunity to explore other media and work cross departmentally. Have you had the opportunity to go beyond metalsmithing and jewelry?
Yes! The opportunities here are endless. I’ve taken a watercolor class and First-Time Pottery, and in this Early Winter session, I am taking Beginning/Advanced Beginning Handbuilding and one workshop from the printmaking and book arts.
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You have a dual degree in tourism, hospitality and event management. What jobs have you done (or do you do) other than being an artist?

When I first started my undergrad at IU, my major was Tourism, Hospitality and Event management with a minor in studio arts. Prior to my full commitment to be an artist, I used to work in the hotel as part of my degree requirement, and occasionally I also work on different type of event planning projects at the same time.

Once I started taking art classes at IU, I felt different. Especially once I started taking classes in the metals area. But as time flew by, I began to realize I am more attracted to being an artist and spending my time creating in the studio.

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In my experience in the MEETING and events industry, great planners tend to be meticulous, have an acute attention to detail, and can execute complicated projects flawlessly. Do you find those traits prevalent in yourself…and if so, also in your art practice? In looking at your work (which is so beautiful) I would think some of those characteristics would carry over, No?
Yes! I personally feel both of the areas blend and overlap significantly. For example, one of the characteristic processes I follow in my work is to have a step by step list (which I was learned from my undergrad professor), this comes in handy in preventing potential mistakes and saving lots of time. I back myself into a timeline for each list – asking myself, for example,  when is the best time to start sanding the piece; should I do it before the final soldering or start it when it is still in the constructive stage?  It’s all about timing simple, easy decisions.  I am able to envision the process and outcome in clear steps. Likewise, as an event planner, I always have a timeline for when and what I should be doing; it’s a necessity to  to make an event run successfully. The other similarity that both areas have in common is the “plan b” ability to solve problem. It’s almost unavoidable that there might be problem encountering a project (whether that’s found during soldering or in the clean up) and we have to quickly find a better solution, or get stuck. A good event planner always, always has a plan B in her back pocket…just in case things don’t go as planned.
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What is something quirky or ritualistic you do in your studio space?

While some artists tend to leave their tools on the bench wherever they could see it fits, I prefer to tidy up everything I use that day and put all the tools and equipments away before I leave the studio. I couldn’t call off the day if I didn’t make this part happened before I leave.  It almost feels like an ritual element that is part of my studio practice. Every few weeks, before starting off the day in the studio, I will do reconfigure the arrangement of the bench space and giving myself another fresh starts.

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Being an artist is half the battle. Getting your work out there CAN BE A Challenge. An Artist residency at Lillstreet is a great way to build your community, and in 2018 you had your first solo show! How do you seek out opportunities to get your work into the hands and eyes of others?

There are lots of recurring shows and exhibitions annually in the metalsmithing and jewelry design field. I often keep myself updated with the newsletters from different art centers, craft schools, etc. and on top of that I use callforentry.org and often seek out new shows or exhibition opportunities. 

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 If you had to title a show based on the current mood or state of your practice, what would you call it?

When you do, you can do.

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Danni just finished her solo exhibition in Grunwald Gallery at Indiana University, Bloomington, IN the spring OF 2018, showcasing her past three years of research work about personal wellness development. Her work haVE been exhibited in various locations throughout the United States. Learn more about Danni and her work here: www.dannixu.com
Take a class with Danni! View her current classes at Lillstreet, here.

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About our Residency Program: Interested in an artist residency at Lillstreet Art Center? Our  artist residencies last for one year, beginning in September, are available in the following departments: Ceramics, Photography, Metalsmithing & Jewelry, Painting & Drawing, Printmaking, Textiles & Fiber Arts. Working across media is both acceptable and encouraged. Our call for application runs early spring. Meet all of our current residents here

About the author

Kate Bek

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By Kate Bek

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4401 N. Ravenswood Ave.
Chicago, IL 60640

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About Lillstreet

Founded in 1975, Lillstreet Art Center is a large community of artists and students working side-by-side in a friendly environment which encourages and inspires artistic growth in the individual. Lillstreet Art Center supports the arts through our education program, artist residencies, gallery exhibitions and retail sales opportunities, studio rentals, and arts-based professional development.

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