Niya Gao

Calculated Distance

Artist’s Statement:

I believe everything can be viewed as a structure- a result of its material, the environment, and history. I use copper pipes as the material to construct the geographical distance between each place and person, from my personal history and my family’s history. Each joint of the structure is a turning point, aligned with the turning points in my life. Through revealing the geographical distance between my family and me, I aim to create a space in which my family and I can communicate with each other honestly. By creating a space, lending itself to be dissected and interpreted, I am able to give the part of myself that remains hidden.

Fragment Communication

Artist’s Statement:

I created four differently sized clear boxes as the fifth stage within my progression to showcase transparency. The dimensions of each box represent the weight of being. Culturally, the number four means to be cautious of death. These factors contribute to the controversial element of my work. It is seen as disrespectful to question an elder in the family, so I wrote out 15 long letters that I wish I could give to my family, asking them questions about their feelings and decisions using traditional Chinese ink. My family will never be able to understand the letters, but know that they are there. In the installation I cut the letters into strips and placed them into boxes. The layers of paper show the fragmented relationships and the isolation between each member of my family.

The white paper with black Chinese ink challenges cultural beliefs and is my attempt to seek transparency. Unless we start talking about our problems, we will just continue to hide it until we are so fragmented and disconnected, unable to reconnect as a family. The dyed black paper represents the hidden secrets and fears of exposing ourselves that causes us to hide ourselves in different sizes of boxes.

The transparency of the boxes is my way of giving myself, sharing my vulnerability to address what we can in order to save the family unity. Thus, I created a sense of an environment that is inaccessible for the audience by the conflict of wanting to be transparent.

About the Artist:

Niya Gao is a mixed-media artist. She works in a variety of different mediums, including photography, painting, sculpture, and installation. She graduated from the Contemporary Arts program at Etobicoke School of the Arts and will be attending the School of Art Institute Chicago, United States in the fall of 2020. She is also the founder and the curator of the Us Gallery Contemporary-Toronto, Canada. Her work has been exhibited in group shows at Alberta University of the Arts in Calgary, Canada, the Albright Knox Gallery in Buffalo, United State, the John B. Aird Gallery in Toronto, Canada, and Art Etobicoke in Toronto, Canada. Her work also has been published in Trinity Review, University of Toronto, Young Voice Magazine, City of Toronto, The Adroit Journal -San Francisco, USA, and A5 Magazine London, UK.

Create a website or blog at