A Peek Behind the Curtain: MFA thesis exhibition by Nikki Lau

The Penn State School of Visual Arts’ (SoVA) Edwin W. Zoller Gallery is hosting MFA thesis exhibition, "A PEEK BEHIND THE CURTAIN, an Intersectionality and the Sideshow Circus" by Nikki Lau. The exhibition will be on display Monday, March 14 through Friday, March 18, with an artist talk from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 15. We invite you to attend the public reception from 5 to 8 p.m. March 14 in the gallery.

This exhibition is interested in unpacking what it means to be normal. How are we performing identity? Are we performing multiple identities?  Nikki Lau reflects on who she is as a cis gendered, able bodied, non-heteronormative Asian woman and how otherness has shaped how society treats people. 

Lau has created a large scale circus sideshow installation including ceramic figures of "freaks" from multiple points in history, to question what it means to be a freak, and challenging archetypes of normalcy. She has sculpted features of herself as "freaks" of a circus sideshow attraction, so that empathy may develop. She transforms her core self into different bodies, larger or smaller, darker or lighter, differently abled (both mentally and physically), exotified, and multiple genders and sexes. 

She is interested in the power and privilege dynamics that occur with both the audience and the entertainer as a metaphor for how society formulates who are the oppressors and who are the oppressed. 

Lau was born and raised in San Francisco, CA. She received her BA in Interdisciplinary Visual Arts at the University of Washington in Seattle, WA in 2008. She is an Americorps Alumni and her work in 2011 with Public Allies/Americorps was a pivotal moment in her art practice. Her themes shifted to identity politics and social justice. She uses large scale installations to unpack inequalities and challenge social hierarchies.She is currently pursuing her MFA with a concentration in Ceramics SoVA and received a Bunton Waller Assistantship.