Soe Yu Nwe

Artist Statement

In my work, I explore different ways of expressing my experience of alienation, confusion and pain as a cultural outsider by creating narrative spaces that explore the lines between insides and outsides.

Playing on the idea of the body being the house that shelter the spirit, I create work that is symbolic of the self. I instill the metaphorical sculptural self with a sense of organicity and intricacy by gesturing the bodily- the viscera and skeletal, morphing into the botanical to express the vitality, delicacy, and injury of the spirit inhabiting and animating the forms.

As a third generation Chinese immigrant in Myanmar, I seek inspirations from cultural practices of ethnic Chinese and the local Burmese. Local animistic beliefs, folklores and mythologies inspire the imagery in my work. I am particularly interested in the female figures in Buddhist mythologies. In my most recent body of work, I explored creating hybrid bodies using imagery of Naga Maedaw, a dragon queen in Buddha’s birth stories, Jataka Tales.

Art making, to me, is an ontological quest. I explore the nature of being by attempting to depict the ephemerality of the human condition. Condensation and displacement of violent desires, tender affections, spiritual hopes, sexual instincts and maternal conflicts are intimated with metaphors and symbols of nature's cyclical growth, decay and death.

Through exploring the otherness within the self, I hope to create enigmatic bodies, comprised of poetic spaces dwelled by the liminal self, fragmented and dislocated, in search and in transition, captured in a moment of growth and transformation.

-- Soe Yu Nwe


Soe Yu Nwe is a prolific artist from Myanmar. After earning her MFA from RISD, Soe has participated in numerous international residencies.

Soe’s artistic practice explores notions self in relation to nature and culture. Reflecting on her cross-cultural identity as being fluid, fragile and fragmented, she creates hybridized beings through transfiguration of emotional landscape- depicting the spiritual, viscera and botanical in nature’s various states of growth, decay and death.

Soe exhibits her work internationally in galleries and museums. Her work has recently been acquired by the acclaimed Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art in Australia.

Soe Yu is also a finalist for 2019 Forbes 30 Under 30: Art & Style.