Vermont Arts Council

I am a Vermont Artist: Cai Xi

Cai Xi’s creative practice is rooted in experimental contemporary art and informed by a deep connection to traditional Chinese art. She uses calligraphy in her works and employs the classic principles of brush (using the common mop, broom, and mason’s trowel), ink (oil or enamel paint), and bone (compositional structure).
In addition to her painting, Cai uses skills derived from being a chef, educator, and Taiji master to create multimedia explorations. She explains that “with performance mop paintings, monumental portraits, and installations that dance in the wind, I am also celebrating art as food, food as art, the whole cooking process as art.”
Cai shared her thoughts about being a Vermont artist. 
How has living as an artist in Vermont affected your creative process?
Growing up in a large densely populated city of China I nevertheless had a few experiences of visiting rural Chinese villages–that countryside and the natural beauty of it has dwelt in me ever since. When I settled in Vermont almost twenty years ago it was a dream of mine becoming a reality. The open sky and breathing land immediately inspired me to follow nature’s lead. After diving into the Earth & Sky landscape series, I extended my contemplation of my new home into the community of people in this landscape, neighbors and friends–listening to and learning from each person, their lives, and their stories. For me, Vermont is about connecting with and learning from nature, the natural settings of Vermont.
What is something about your art that has changed over time?
My art is a tool, a channel, a bridge for me to be connected with people and to recognize the beauty of all people. Over these years in Vermont, my awareness of this environment where I am has developed, while acting locally, making locally, and being part of the locally sourced ethos. The process of doing the You and Me series, each portrait, is my opportunity to take time to listen and study the stories and lives of the people depicted. My Earth and Sky landscape painting series is a process of letting go of myself, dropping my ego, letting nature take me, embrace me. I am melting into the vastness of nature. The beauty of nature remains in a second, a minute, an hour, a day, a month, a year, and thereafter forever. Nothing was, is, and will be greater than nature. It is my ongoing prayer for Peace on Earth.
What is your vision for the next several years? 

I envision art-life, applying my art practice in whatever I do, cooking, teaching, taking care of my health, painting and drawing, and everyday living, sharing contemplation, insight and the joy of making with others.
Visit Cai’s website.
Read about Cai’s performance, her retrospective, her Edge series, and more.
Learn about the Chinese word art project.
Browse Cai’s videos.

The “I am a Vermont Artist” series explores how artists’ creative expressions reflect their experiences of ethnicity, gender identity, religion, disability, or age. Covering all artistic disciplines, and a range of backgrounds—from New Americans to the state’s first residents—we hope to amplify voices that deepen our understanding of what it means to be a Vermont artist.

Visit the series archive.