b.1990, Memphis, TN. Lives and works in New York, NY.
The Dreamcatcher works (2012–2013) bring together two of James Hsieh’s abiding interests: dreams and aliens. Changing countries and languages as a child (his parents are Taiwanese), he often felt like a misfit. Seeing Steven Spielberg’s movie E.T. was a revelation, he says. It showed him aliens who looked weird but had superhuman powers. “Aliens are so cool, they can do things we human beings can never do,” he says. “I wanted to go back into space with E.T. and be an alien.” Since that wasn’t possible, he became an art student—and started creating aliens of his own: “All these amazing creatures kept popping into my head, and no two were alike.” To Hsieh, dreams are the counterpart of outer space: “They represent another world where everything is possible.” After reading Freud and Jung and learning about dreamcatchers—the webs woven by Ojibwe and Sioux Indians to filter good spirits from bad—he decided to make his own devices to capture the aliens in his imagination, using stuffed felt and bright colours to create a mood of playful surreality.