Stephanie Shih: Ceramics, Sriracha, and Nostalgia

The other day, my friend pointed me towards the work of ceramic artist Stephanie H. Shih. I was immediately enamored by her handiwork,  ceramic sculptures of popular foods found in Asian grocery stores such as sriracha, lao gan ma, and large bags of rice. If you’re a fan of Lucy Sparrow’s felt pieces, you will surely enjoy feasting your eyes upon Stephanie Shih’s colorful handmade ceramics.

As an Asian American artist myself, I had also explored familiar ideas in my work–how everyday items can connect a diaspora of first generation Americans. The foods that Shih highlights serve as a cultural connection between Asian Americans and their immigrant parents.

Shih describes her own work as “a pantry from the ‘80s——filled with with fingerprinted surfaces and shakily painted labels——that looks at once familiar and hazy, like an old memory.” For me, running my eyes over the bumpy textures and vibrant labels of Shih’s sculptures brings a wave of nostalgia, taking me back to running through aisles of my hometown grocery store, feet stepping on dark concrete, smells of fresh fish and fried pork and candy wafting through the building. Perhaps I’ll be fortunate enough to have one of her works perched on a shelf in my living room someday.


Student at the University of Michigan studying Art & Design and Communication & Media, hoping to create meaningful design for social impact. Every week I highlight an intriguing artist (or group of artists)!

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