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Plush Sculptures From James Hsieh Capture the Wonders of the Natural World cover

Plush Sculptures From James Hsieh Capture the Wonders of the Natural World

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this post ran in 2022. We’re publishing this update in honor of our April 2024 exhibition, In My Backyard, which includes work from James Hsieh.

With their bright colors, soft surfaces, and dotted patterns, James Hsieh’s plush sculptures beg to be cuddled. Until, that is, you see the set of chompers sewn into each yawning mouth, ready to devour.

Described as an “environmental imagineer” by his alma mater, Parsons School of Design, James uses felt and other textiles to create an alternative version of nature, plucked directly from his subconscious. The multidisciplinary artist developed a fascination with local flora and fauna after growing up on his grandparents’ farm in Taoyuan, Taiwan. “I’ve always been fascinated by how complex and diverse nature is, and the belief that there is an infinite unknown in this world [waiting] to be discovered,” he writes in his artist statement.

Described as an ‘environmental imagineer,’ James uses felt and other soft textiles to create an alternative version of nature, plucked directly from his subconscious.
‘Curiouser and Curiouser’

Over the years, James’ childhood adventures in Taoyuan’s subtropical climate transformed into “bizarre dreams that opened a door to another hidden dimension.” The bees, butterflies, and ladybugs of his youth are now terrifying and toothy, colorful and cuddly, all at once. Capturing the curiosity of his youth, James transforms drawings and murals into immersive installations jam-packed with plush 3D sculptures. “I often play with scale to activate the perspectives of both adults and kids,” he notes. “My intent is to create an immersive environment that strives to reactivate the viewer's childlike wonderment with nature by producing a sensorial reaction.”

Not just a colorful playground for the kid inside, James’ immersive works are meant to inspire awe and appreciation for the natural world. “As humans, we often forget that we are also living in the ecosystem, a part of nature,” he muses. “Through my practice, I want to arouse and enhance the viewer’s awareness of their surroundings, environment, ecosystem, and nature,” he says. “We must do something other than take.”

Scroll through to see James’ work, then head to our April 2024 exhibition, In My Backyard, to see his submission, “Fortress.”

“We must do something other than take.” — James Hsieh

Described as an ‘environmental imagineer,’ James uses felt and other soft textiles to create an alternative version of nature, plucked directly from his subconscious.
‘The End Is Only the Beginning’
Described as an ‘environmental imagineer,’ James uses felt and other soft textiles to create an alternative version of nature, plucked directly from his subconscious.
‘Bee’
Described as an ‘environmental imagineer,’ James uses felt and other soft textiles to create an alternative version of nature, plucked directly from his subconscious.
‘Butterfly’
Described as an ‘environmental imagineer,’ James uses felt and other soft textiles to create an alternative version of nature, plucked directly from his subconscious.
‘Dragonfly’
James Hsieh Moth Plushie
‘Moth’
James Hsieh Love in Bloom
‘Love in Bloom’
James Hsieh Illusionary Flower
‘Illusionary Flower’
James Hsieh Daisy
‘Daisy’
James Hsieh Rafflesia
‘Rafflesia’
James Hsieh Eternal Blossom
‘Eternal Blossom’

James Hsieh: Website | Instagram

All photos published with permission of the artist(s).

Want to be featured on NOT REAL ART? Email editor@notrealart.com with a short introduction and a link to your online portfolio or three images of your work.

Jenna Eberhardt

Jenna Eberhardt (she/her/hers) is NOT REAL ART’s associate editor. Jenna is a writer and working artist from Asheville, NC, who specializes in watercolor botanicals and dreamy moonscapes. A true night owl, Jenna enjoys a minimum of two cups of coffee per day and isn’t afraid of the dark when she’s up late painting. As a registered yoga instructor with a background in health and wellness, Jenna believes in the brain-boosting power of a regular mindfulness practice, regarding rest and relaxation as a necessary part of the creative process.

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