Fawna Xiao is Washington DC based printmaker who creates minimalist architectural screen prints that are influenced by natural forces and elements such as mountains and glaciers. Her work has been exhibited throughout the DC area at various galleries and art spaces such as Hillyer Art Space and Hole in the Sky. Fawna earned a BA in Studio Ar from University of Maryland with a concentration in Printmaking in 2011.
I met Fawna last August when we showed work together at ArtSee’s Art Market at Tabula Rasa. At the event, I fell in love with Fawna’s work and sense of style; the simplicity she exhibited in both realms was compelling and left me curious about her style and artistic influences. To satisfy this curiosity, I caught up with Fawna before and during her opening at the Hillyer Art Space in Dupont Circle for an interview.
Who are you and what do you do?
I’m Fawna and I’m a printmaker.
Can you tell me a little bit about your art? What mediums do work with?
I work pretty much 100% in screenprinting. I do some drawings and photography as well but you know – not really. My screenprints tend to feature abstract landmasses (mountains and the like) with a focus on geometry and texture.
What are some concepts/ideas that you contend with in your current body of work?
A lot of my work deals with balance and freedom. I think mountains are the ultimate symbol of freedom and an example of all that’s right in the world. I’m always craving adventure and that specific brand of freedom. Balance is an important concept to me both aesthetically and as a life philosophy. Live a balanced life and you’ll be alright. And a lot of my work will come in pairs even though they’re all one of a kind monotypes – they’ll have a sister or brother to balance them out.
Does your sense of style influence your art? Does your art influence your sense of style?
I think my art probably influences my style more than my style influences my art. I get on a kick of a certain color or shape in the studio (so, recently it was a bright blue and black) and all of a sudden that’s all I want to wear. And I do dress like my prints – simple, clean,confident.
Do you have a “style?” If so, can you describe what it is?
Oh, man. I’m sure I do. I don’t dress terribly femininely – I’m too practical. I like pockets, I like being to hop on my bike without giving people too much of a show.
At the same time, I do like simple and clean looks. I love a well-cut pair of black skinny jeans and a silk blouse. I guess I dress for the occasion. I like jeans and a tee when I’m working. I like neon bikinis when I’m at the beach. I’m a simple girl.
What influences your sense of style?
I’ve sort of always gravitated towards a simple and confident style because my dad hates wearing stuff where you can tell where it’s from (no logos anywhere) and my mom is a lady that knows exactly how to make herself look good. So I grew up with that kind of sensibility in my head. Look good but don’t show off. And I’ve sort of stuck to that.
What decade do you think had the best fashion? Why?
What’s going on right now! I love that it’s so hard to define what fashion is right now because it’s everything – old made new, new made old, just plain new, and just plain old.
Where do you typically shop? Any favorite local spots?
I’ll be honest, I don’t do a ton of shopping. I’m (trying) to be a minimalist and get rid of all the junk I own – especially clothes I don’t wear on a weekly/bi-weekly basis. This also means not buying many new things. But the last couple things I bought – oh man this is bad –they were all online: Everlane and Alternative Apparel. Although I do love local businesses!
What is your favorite item of clothing in your closet? Favorite accessory?
I’ve got a great charcoal shirt dress I love in the summer. It’s got pockets. And for my favorite accessory I’ve got this simple little gold cartilege piercing which I’ve had in for about 7 years now.
Finally, a random question! What kind of music do you listen to when you work in the studio? If so, what bands/musicians?
I HAVE to listen to music when I’m working – I actually find myself working faster and more erratically to faster songs and slower and more thoughtfully during slower ones. It’s cool. I like that I can feel the impact of music on my process. Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of indie folk type stuff – Shakey Graves and Streets of Laredo topping the list currently.