“My work is like drinking tea. You understand how and what it is only after drinking it.”

Born 1961, Taiyuan, Shanxi

As a child, Lin Tianmiao spent long hours helping her mother wind cotton, a task she describes as “torturous”. Despite that experience, or perhaps because of it, she became a textile designer, and when she turned to art full-time in the 1990s she maintained her focus on fabric. Many of her works, with titles like Thread Winding, Binding, and Bound Unbound, involve thread—often vast quantities of it, painstakingly woven, sewn, or wound around common objects. Creating these works was “a kind of agony” at first, she says, but it became a meditative process: “Every day I would bind a little, every day the same. I became calm, composed.” The lithographs of her son’s and husband’s hugely enlarged and blurred faces in Focus 1 and Focus 2 (2007) also have a textile basis. The first is partly obscured by coils of thick white thread, the second is spattered with holes using a technique borrowed from Japanese lace making.

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