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Exploring the Mind of Artist Irene Hsiao

May 11

On May 11th, artist Irene Hsiao offered visitors a breathtaking, site-specific performance in response to her installation IF THE SKY COULD DREAM followed by an artist talk.

Irene’s performances are continually reimagined and restaged with a new guest musician for each iteration. In “IF THE SKY COULD DREAM — Exploring the Mind of Artist Irene Hsiao,”  guest artist Menghua joined on the guzheng—a Chinese zither and stringed instrument with thousands of years of history. Hsiao’s interactive dance was paired with Menghua’s performance of moving songs like “High Mountain and Running Water (高山流水)”.

After her performance, Hsiao led attendees through an exploration of their performance. She introduced herself and guest musician Menghua to the guests and once guests had done the same, attendees had the chance to ask questions and learn about Hsiao’s artistic practice. What does it mean for the project of IF THE SKY COULD DREAM? What did Hsiao’s dance respond to and how did each new guest musician change or add to the meaning of the installation? 

As Hsiao notes, “IF THE SKY COULD DREAM” combines drawing, painting, dance, community art, found materials and found spaces to reveal and celebrate the dragons among us. This is anything from the structural, ancestral, architectural, to the internal and environmental, as “IF THE SKY COULD DREAM” locates a deep connection between the dragon (a water deity in Chinese culture) and the waters of Chicago: Lake Michigan, the Chicago River, and the many lakes, ponds, and lagoons of Chicago Parks. 

Everyone at the Heritage Museum of Asian Art extends our warmest gratitude: To Irene, thank you for a wonderful collaboration. We enjoyed hosting the IF THE SKY COULD DREAM installation and believe the museum, museum-goers, and Chicago is better for it! We look forward to the next chapter of the project through the year as you continue your residency! To Menghua, thank you for your mesmerizing guzheng performance and sharing! And finally, thank you to all of the attendees! We hope you enjoyed the sights, sounds, and experience of dance, musical performance, and art. 

Please look out for more events, exhibitions, and performances like this in the future and return to the Heritage Museum of Asian Art! 


About Irene Hsiao:

Irene Hsiao is a multidisciplinary artist, dancer, and writer. She creates performances in conversation with visual art in museums, galleries, and public spaces, a practice that includes  site-specific interaction with visual artworks and experimental engagement with artists, institutions, and the public. She is the 2024 Resident Artist at the Heritage Museum of Art and has had numerous performances at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, Art Institute of Chicago, Smart Museum of Art, and more. For more information, please visit:


About Menghua Guan:

With a Master's degree in music from China’s Nanjing Normal University and as the founder of the Menghua Guan Guzheng Studio, Menghua Guan is a Guzheng performer and tutor with, respectively, more than 30 and 20 years of experience performing and teaching the guzheng. She has been invited to offer numerous lectures and performances in universities and libraries such as Roosevelt University, University of Wisconsin, Chicago Public Library etc. Menghua Guan was also invited to perform in Jay Pritzker Pavilion in the Millennium Park for Guzheng Concerto by the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic in 2018. For more information, please visit:

Museum of Asian Art


Heritage Museum of Asian Art is a non-profit organization with IRS 501 (c) (3) tax exempt status. 

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