Skip to Content

Wanxin Zhang

Courtesy Catharine Clark Gallery
Artist website:
To purchase artwork, please contact the artist or gallery directly.


Wanxin Zhang was born and educated in China. He graduated from the prestigious LuXun Academy of Fine Art in Sculpture in 1985. In 1992, after Zhang established his art career as a sculptor in China, he relocated to San Francisco with his family and received his Master in Fine Arts from the Academy of Art University. Zhang had been on the faculty of the Academy of Art University, Department of Art Practice at University of California, Berkeley and California College of The Art in Oakland. Zhang is currently an adjunct faculty at San Francisco Art Institute.

Zhang's sculptures represent a marriage between historical references and a contemporary cultural context; they carry messages of social and political commentary. His work is deeply influenced by the Bay Area figurative movement and artists such at Peter Voulkos and Stephen De Staebler. As a studio sculptor and educator, Zhang was the first place recipient of the Virginia A. Groot Foundation Grant in 2006 and the Joan Mitchell Grant in 2004. His sculptures have been shown in San Francisco, Santa Fe, Miami, Seattle, Palm Desert and New York City. In 2007, his pieces were part of the 22nd UBE Sculpture Biennial in Japan; in 2008, his sculpture was selected by the Taipei Ceramics Biennial in Taiwan; and in 2013, he was part of the Da Tong's 2nd International Sculpture Biennial in China. Zhang had his first solo art museum show at the University of Wyoming Art Museum in 2006, with solo museum exhibitions following at the Arizona State University Art Museum, Boise Art Museum in Idaho, Fresno Art Museum in California, The Alden B. Dow Museum of Science & Art in Michigan, Bellevue Arts Museum in Washington, and Holter Museum of Art in Montana. His works have been selected to be included in Confrontational Ceramics by Judith Schwartz, and can be found in major art magazines such as "Art News," "Art in America," "Sculpture," and "American Ceramics." Zhang has many public collections, and his private collectors are located both nationally and internationally. In 2012, the San Francisco Chronicle picked Zhang's exhibition at the Richmond Art Center to be one of the Top 10 Exhibitions in the San Francisco Bay Area.


I believe that all art is a form of revitalization of artistic concepts from the past and present. Taking into account the cultural implications of the space and time between each idea and piece, one must keep in mind that art is not the only motivation behind them. In almost all occasions, the spirit and the content of the then-modern society is the true source of these creations.

Although I grew up during the nicely coined "New China," I actually lived through one of the most devastating periods of cultural destruction in modern history. When I visited the Terra Cotta Warriors of the Qin excavations, I immediately realized that the feudalism and oppression from the Qin dynasty have never quite left the country. The fundamentals of those concepts are still controlling the people in Mao's regime. Though the origins of my work grew from historical references, my pieces actually attempt to raise questions endured through time. My geographical and ideological personal journey formed the opinions that now question and explore the world today with humor, confusion, anxiety, and sarcasm.

After arriving in the United States many years ago, I was presented with an environment to voice my ideas and thoughts through my art. For a culture traveler like myself, this privilege is invaluable. In my new surroundings of Western religion, political systems, and the dynamic everyday life, not to mention the Bay Area funk art and figurative movement, I was in the perfect place to create my own version of reflective art.

It was during this time that I truly realized the challenge behind this attempt. Not only have I been able to constantly push the boundaries of what clay can express, I have also been able to really push myself to see how I can truly incorporate my purpose, inspirations, and critiques to reflect life. To reflect the limitless boundary of the contemporary social and political messages. Most importantly, I've been able to utilize clay to try to represent the spirit of humanity.

Featured Art

Reflection: Migration Series

The Man with Color Face
Ceramic and glaze
30” x 31” x 37”

Pilgrim #1 with Hands

The Old Wall
Glazed ceramic
28” x 18” x 10”