I’ve decided to keep being confused about language .
I grew up speaking Mandarin Chinese. As an adult, I have traveled and moved frequently for my education and work. As such, I have been long disconnected from my mother tongue, operating almost exclusively in a foreign language in my adult and professional life. Reflecting on my fraught experiences with communication and expression—the difficulty of getting a simple point across—I’ve decided to keep being confused about language. My lack of knowledge has become the creative fuel that powers my curiosity and explorations . By dislocating language from its context and form, my work questions the linguistic structures people learn and unlearn. My practice merges sculpture, video and performance. I employ various approaches to imagine an alternative space for cultural hierarchy, the comfort of identity, power dynamics and transparency .
My work addresses the physical experience of a language , the impossibility of externalizing human feelings that exceed verbal language , and the meanings and aesthetics of linguistic performance . An anti-choir practice, How I Wonder What You Are, was born from investigating our communications and miscommunications. In this piece, I conducted a group of professional choir singers to perform “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.” Although I have no training as a conductor, I used my gestures to direct the singers. Wearing double-layered soundproof earmuffs, they could only interpret and respond independently.
When the conductor invents and improvises gestures to direct, they are entrusted to carry out the tasks of translation and interpretation with freedom. At the same time, however, the soundproof earmuffs isolated the group of singers into individual actors . While this dysfunctional language opens up through various autonomous translations, the singers not only express their subjective understandings through their distinct voices, but also divulge their shared confusion through facial expressions. By breaking down the sociotechnical system, this anti-choir practice disrupts order. Instead of innovating a new hierarchy, it recycles bits and pieces from the original system and suggests alternatives. The nuances of power relations are deconstructed and embodied through fingertips, vibrating vocal chords, bewilderment, broken translation, the fragmentation of a collective, and the solidarity of shared insecurities.
While on residency in Finland over the winter of 2017, I started a research project on cleaning, self-caring, and being bored. Similar to the condutor-musician structure, my How to Clean A Window project directs participants to clean their windows by following my audio or video tutorial, and in so doing, invites various communities to explore the poetics of the everyday . Collectively, we examine window cleaning as a domestic chore, a meditative exercise, a religious practice, a series of choreographed movements when solitude in solidarity. Inspired by the history of the glass industry in Finland , I recognize glass’s inherent linguistic properties. It is transparent yet fuzzy—delivering information while setting up segregation. Glass is not a symbol for translation. Glass is translation.
Currently, I am expanding on these ideas of collective miscommunication and cultural dislocation by making an immersive ASMR cooking show in which I lead participants through a series of collective cooking activities to make Chinese dumplings. By transforming an episode of our isolated everyday lives into a collaborative cooking orchestra, this project brings awareness to the diminished labor of immigrants , reminding us of the pleasurable sensations of cooking, and restoring our intimacy in the upcoming post-pandemic world.
Within the current global political climate, in which people are alienated from each other, it’s time to listen. Translation is a conversational process. It not only facilitates cross-cultural encounters, but more importantly creates mistakes and hope for dialogues. I am excited to provide more opportunities for the world to translate hesitation , distortion , and silence , through my artistic investigation of language. Starting from the moment one considers that conducting is not only a means of communication but that it encodes a perspective of the world and challenges established systems, the aesthetic politics behind it become lush and powerful. Art is the technology of technology, it enframes enframing .
 The tools we use to express. The systems for communication. An attempt of explanation. The architecture of bridges and walls.
 English being a constant foreign language to me. Being unfamiliar with cultural cues. Matriculating into a Glass MFA program without any hot shop experience. Leading a youth choir in bird whistles though I have training in neither birdcalling nor conducting.
 Collective dumpling making, poetry composing, swimming pool exercising, lollipop casting, soap bubble blowing, music therapy operating, glass shard foraging and recording, window cleaning, love letter whispering, choral conducting, rainbow party hosting and so on.
 The shape of a mouth when pronouncing a specific word in Mandurian Chinese, as in “huā, chóng, niǎo, shòu,” 2016.
 Such as love, in “desk, cup, soap solution, me, glass speech device, a love letter (337 times of “要疯 了”), chair”, 2016.
 Like the sounds people make when they are thinking: “The Sound of Thinking (Music Therapy)”, 2015.
 Not being able to listen to each other, they are like a bunch of headless chickens.
 In Haukijärvi forest, Finland, 2017; Fishers Island, NY, 2018; National Liberty Museum and Icebox Project, Philadelphia, PA, 2018; and Glass Art Society 2020 Conference, under self-quarantine.
 The desire for windows opened up the glass industry in Finland. The Industrial Revolution built factories and glass windows were highly needed. Under Swedish rule, Finland’s large forests meant a great amount of fuel for heating up the glass furnaces. Therefore, it became an ideal place for making glass. When humans immersed themselves in fanatical machinery productions, what did glass mean for them? Light? Nature? Fantasy? Security?
 This project responds to the immigration crackdown in 2019 under the Trump administration (when business owners were forced to fire their undocumented employees or face prosecution), and the tremendous hit on the food industry due to Covid-19. Immigrants compose nearly 70% of agricultural labor in the United States and 57% of food preparation and serving related occupations.
 Martin Heidegger, "The Question Concerning Technology," 1954.
Yixuan Pan is an artist who was born and raised in the land of fish and rice, Hunan, China. To deal with issues of translation and communication as well as reimagining the western hegemony through a global outlook, her anti-disciplinary practice merges multiple media and modes of presentation such as installation, video, performance, dumpling making, poetry composing, swimming pool exercising, lollipop casting, soap bubble blowing, music therapy operating, glass shard foraging and recording, window cleaning, love letter whispering, choral conducting, rainbow party hosting, and more. By dislocating language from its context and form, Pan questions the linguistic structures people learn and unlearn in relation to comfort, emotional temperature, transparency, hierarchy and power dynamics. Pan currently teaches digital art at Pennsylvania College of Art and Design, and she wants to be a cook when she grows up.
Pan is the author of a self-published book: It -A Skillful Amateur's Records on Glass. She is also a recipient of the Lighthouse Works Fellowship, Vermont Studio Center Fellowship, Elsewhere Museum Philadelphia exchange fellowship, University Fellowship at Temple University, and the Laurie Wagman Prize in Glass at Tyler School of Art. Pan’s work have been exhibited nationally and internationally, including: Glass Art Society 2020 Conference; Vox Populi, Icebox Project, Fringe Arts, The Woodmere Art Museum and the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, PA; The College of New Jersey, and The Pine Barren Gallery, in NJ; ARC Gallery, Chicago, IL; Yin Yang Acupuncture, Portland, OR; Bush Barn Art Center, Salem, OR; Asakusa (浅草) KAMINARI, Tokyo, Japan; Haukijärvi Forest, Finland; Central South University of Forestry and Technology, Changsha, China. She is an active member at Practice Gallery in Philadelphia, Pa. Pan holds a MFA in Glass from Tyler School of Art, Temple University; a BA from George Fox University in Oregon and a BA from Central South University of Forestry and Technology in China. And she did not stop learning.
2017 Tyler School of Art, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA MFA, Glass
2014 George Fox University, Newberg, OR BA, Studio Art Magna cum laude
2012 Central South University of Forestry and Technology, China BA, Art and Design
Awards & Honors
2021 InLiquid, Philadelphia, PA Wind Fellowship, Recipient
2019 Philadelphia Goes Elsewhere Exchange Fellowship, Greensboro, NC
2018 American Academy of Arts and Letters, New York, NY Nominee, Arts Awards and Purchase Program
Lighthouse Works Fellowship, Fishers Island, NY
Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, VT Creative Access Fellowship, Craig H. Neilsen Foundation
2017 The Pew Charitable Trusts, Philadelphia, PA Pew Wish List
The Laurie Wagman Prize in Glass, PA
2015 - 2017 Tyler School of Art, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA University Fellowship
2014 George Fox University, Newberg, OR Lippi Award (People's Choice)
2013 - 2014 George Fox University, Newberg, OR Dean's List
2012 George Fox University, Newberg, OR International Student Scholarship
Album Competition, Central South University of Forestry and Technology, China First Place, My Life in College（我的⼤學春秋)
2011 Central South University of Forestry and Technology, China School Top Ten Student
2010 - 2011 Central South University of Forestry and Technology, China National Scholarship
Central South University of Forestry and Technology, China Hong Kong Furniture Association Scholarship
2003 Urumchi, Sinkiang, China Second Place, National Model Airplane Contest
2020 New Glass Review 41, Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, NY