Artist Statement

Xiaoxiao (小晓) Strong
Chinese born, American raised, 1999

My work explores my personal understanding and experiences surrounding my identity as a transracial and international adoptee. Adopted at ten months and raised in a predominantly white, small town in Montana since the age of two, Western culture and appearances were how I came to identify myself. Although my parents were persistent in their attempts to keep me connected with my Chinese heritage throughout my younger years, I stubbornly resisted their efforts since I felt no void at the time.

However, after experiencing a world beyond the small town in which everyone knew my story, I found I could no longer avoid certain parts of my identity as I once had. Where once I was simply Xiaoxiao from rural Montana, outside of that town I became an Asian who spoke, “surprisingly good English.” With repeated encounters like these, I began reevaluating my relationship to my Asian origins and adoptee status.

Coming out of the fog is a prominent term in the adoption community that describes a time when an adoptee begins to rewrite their narrative around adoption through their own research as opposed to what has been told to them by their parents or society.

This conflicted challenge has become the foundation for my current work. Through navigating the seemingly disparate relationship between my Chinese heritage and Western upbringing, I confront the traditional notions of family, hope, luck and gratitude. These themes have created both a uniting common thread as well as places of contention within my practice. Though the process has proved to be unpredictable and emotionally taxing, I see the pain incurred by doing nothing as much greater.

Past Present, Canning Jars, lumber, projection, sugar, salt. 2022

"Past Present," Canning Jars, lumber, projection, sugar, salt. 2022

"Hopium," 8’x15’x4'. 2021. Paper, food coloring, crochet thread, fabric

"Hopium," 2021. Paper, food coloring, crochet thread, fabric. 8’x15’x4'.


Xiaoxiao Strong is a Chinese-American artist raised in the small town of Bigfork, Montana and currently resides in Boulder, CO. She is a BFA candidate at the University of Colorado, Boulder, focusing in Sculpture and Post-Studio Practices, and has also completed minors in Art History, Creative Technology and Design with the College of Engineering and Applied Science and Business with the Leeds School of Business.

Her work, though variable in medium and form ranging from paper sculpture to video projection mapping, is united through themes of family, fortune, hope and memory in relation to her identity as an Asian American adoptee. Intertwining materials of both cultural and personal significance, she forms new connections between the disparate parts of herself that once seemed irreconcilable.

In 2020-2021, she had the privilege of working with Colorado paper artist Emma Hardy on a metal project for Dr. Bronner’s camp at Burning Man as a collaborator. Hardy then invited her to travel to Lucca, Italy, for a month to assist her in building and installing a large-scale paper sculpture for the 2021 Lucca Biennale.

She has been an award winner in both 2021 and 2022 in the University of Colorado’s prestigious King Exhibition and has exhibited at the Arvada Center in Arvada, Colorado. Thus far, her works grace the homes of patrons in Armonk, New York, New York City, and Whitefish, Montana.

IG: @xiaoxiaostrong

Detail Image (click on photo to enlarge)