Exuviae Banner - Glass cicadas on a wall


“Exuviae” refers to a sloughed-off skin, such as that of snakes, cicadas, and other exoskeleton creatures. The Latin roots of this word refer simply to “things stripped from a body.” Often transparent, exuviae commonly retain the exact appearance of the animal from which it was shed. This exhibition explores ancestry over course of migration, and what can and cannot be molted from human experience—particularly diasporic experience. Three works—BroodAmulet, and Smoulder—triangulate the inheritances of loss and material and cultural narratives from the perspective of a second-generation Chinese-American artist. These works consider: the weight of a generational bloodline; the diffusion of a phonetic alphabet; and reverberations of the American gaze on Asian identity that grew from the oldest branch of the Chinese diaspora in America.

About the Artist

Helen Lee is an artist, designer, and educator, whose work explores language and identity through the materiality of glass. She holds an MFA in Glass from RISD and a BSAD in Architecture from MIT. Recent exhibitions include: Through a Glass Darkly at Delaware Contemporary; Translucency: the Tallinn Applied Art Triennial at the Kai Art Center in Estonia, and Momentum | Intersection at Toledo Museum of Art. Lee is currently an Associate Professor and head of the Glass Lab at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Art Department, and serves as the Director of GEEX, the Glass Education Exchange.


Exuviae is supported by: Arts and Literature Laboratory, UW-Madison Division of the Arts Emily Mead Baldwin Award in the Creative Arts, UW-Madison School of Education Helen Burish Impact 2030 Fund, the Marilynn R. Baxter Fund, UW 175th Anniversary Grant Award, and the UW-Madison Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education with funding from the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation. 


Exhibition Information

Arts and Literature Laboratory
111 S Livingston St #100, Madison, WI 53703

Exhibition Dates
January 9 – March 7, 2024

Opening Reception
January 18, 2024, 6:00-8:00pm


UW-Madison Art

Division of the Arts