Carry (Hexagon), 2023. Acrylic on canvas.

Through Sunday, June 23

Figge Art Museum, 225 West Second Street, Davenport IA

A beloved, longtime Augustana College Professor of Art and the college's Paul A. Anderson Chair in the Arts who is also a gifted, prolific artist in his own right, Peter T. Xiao enjoys his first solo exhibition at the Figge Art Museum in the venue's A Room That One Is In (And All Things In It), an installation of recent paintings on display through June 23.

A student of art and art history, Xiao blends and bends Renaissance concepts of perspective and color and our evolving understanding of how we see the world around us. Through his paintings, he encourages us to explore the link between art and the world we inhabit. With his studio as inspiration, Xiao synthesizes the space which he inhabits onto painted views of multi-panel intersecting planes of canvas which wrap around corners and bend up to the ceiling. Including more than 15 new large scale paintings, the Figge's first-floor Gildehaus Gallery will be awash in a swirl of color and forms, providing viewers with visual insight into his creative practice.

Xiao describes his installation of paintings by saying, "From walls and things that wrap around me, I explore modernist approaches to the picture plane." His floor painting Rise Ye Point, Line and Plane explores the idea of a chair (absent the sitter) and its dimensional "lift" through the viewer's associations with the chair's purpose. Xiao's innovative approach, a "walk-around playground" as he describes it, helps us to better understand the differences between how we see the world with our eyes and experience it with our bodies.

Born in Beijing, Peter Tong Xiao grew up during China’s Cultural Revolution. The year Chairman Mao died, Xiao was farming on a People’s Commune outside the capital and narrowly escaped injury when the stone wall tumbled onto his mud-baked bed during the Tangshan earthquake. A year later, he passed a national exam to enter the Beijing Normal University to study English. In his junior year, following his father’s participation in University of Iowa’s International Writers’ Program as the first Chinese writer, Xiao transferred to Coe College in Cedar Rapids, where the man formerly referred to as "Tong" first began going by "Peter," a name given by his English “godmother” Tina Bailey. After completing a BA in fine arts and English at Coe, Xiao went on to Temple University for his MFA in painting, was employed by the Philadelphia Museum of Art, taught art part-time, and exhibited in Philadelphia, New York, and at Chicago’s Art Expo.

A student of art and art history, Xiao blends and bends Renaissance concepts of perspective and color and our evolving understanding of how we see the world around us. Xiao describes the installation of paintings as a journey "From walls and things that wrap around me." His unique perspective invites viewers to contemplate the relationship between the artist's environment and the art produced, fostering a deeper connection between the observer and the artwork.

"We are delighted to showcase this exhibition at the Figge," said Figge Executive Director & CEO Michelle Hargrave. "Xiao's remarkable body of work will take viewers on a thought-provoking artistic journey, encouraging them to deeply engage with their own perceptions and experiences." Museum-goers will discover that this exhibition is more than just a visual feast; it's an invitation to explore the dynamic relationship between art and our physical presence in the world, prompting us to see beyond what meets the eye.

Peter Xiao: A Room That One Is In (And All Things In It) will be on display through June 23, with regular museum hours 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesdays through Saturdays (10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursdays) and noon to 5 p.m. on Sundays. Museum admission is $4-10, and more information is available by calling (563)326-7804 and visiting

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