January 20 to Feburary 18, 2024

From January 20 to February 18, 2024, the Kunstforum der TU Darmstadt presents the exhibition »Shan mei Yao ON TOP OF THE EVERYDAY« by the Chinese artist Shan mei Yao (*1983, Yi Chang, China) and exhibits her visual diaries for the first time. Shan mei Yao counters the sensory overload caused by constant screen work and smartphones with her diary sketches, which she has been making since the time she studied product design at the Staatliche Hochschule für Gestaltung in Karlsruhe. In addition to her professional work as a designer, she has maintained the habit of recording her everyday life and dreams through drawing. For Shan mei Yao, drawing is a meditative act. »I draw to experience myself as a subject.«

Unlike the collage-like diaries of Janice Lowry (b. 1946, Phoenix, Arizona, United States – †2009, Santa Ana, California, United States) or those often colorfully painted diaries of Frida Kahlo (b. 1907, Coyoacán, Mexico City, Mexico – †1954, ibid.), Shan mei Yao captures her surroundings with a light stroke and a precise black line. »My ›visual diaries‹ tell stories of the interactions between me and my environment and my perception of the different identities I experience as a native Chinese living in Germany,« says Shan mei Yao.

»The two cultures collide in my heart, as if the warm and cold currents of the ocean collide and krill, coral, fish and whales grow in abundance.«

She observes very closely and her sketches tell stories. Drawing, she condenses her thoughts and experiences and brings them exactly to the point. Through the meditative act of drawing, she detaches herself from the digital world and immerses herself in the real world.

The exhibition is flanked by an interdisciplinary supporting program that encourages visitors to create their own visual diary. For example, Shan mei Yao will offer workshops on »visual diaries« and she will celebrate a traditional Chinese tea ceremony on the occasion of the finissage on February 18.