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My research engages intimately with the emissive materiality of digitization, to ask in which ways can art metabolize the screen?

Cycles of renewal enabled by decomposition as a guiding principle, I seek to open up underworlds of livability. What vitalities –what will we smell, sense, and taste from infrastructural litter, that can invigorate us towards collective ways of being? Through microbial fermentations, metabolisms, the photic and olfactory, I provide lures for audiences to seek better relationships with more-than-human agents that support our ability to live.

My practice aims to evolve a mutual understanding, that microbial and organism diversity is key to the health of ecosystems including humans, that landfills are not a life sentence, and soil respiration makes land livable.

But these efforts to implicate people in webs of relation become emptied, if we neglect to confront intense disparities in class that give rise to the exploitative practices fundamental to capitalism. If the fact that all life is linked is removed, ecological and class struggles can be neatly elided by those who seek to stratify profitable hierarchies. Ecological and class struggles are entwined.


Kelly Xi is an artist and researcher who critically leverages the tools of machine learning, game engines, digital ceramics, and neon to embed audiences in material-relational visions for livable futures. Her work engages intimately with the emissive materiality of digitization to cultivate an embodied stake in mutual survival via the gut, "waste", and wavelength.


Her hometown of Baotou, Inner Mongoliathe world’s largest supplier of rare earth metals powering illuminant technologies, mobile devices, and electric enginesis the site of the Baogang Tailings Dam, a radioactive cesspool visible from space, operated by the Bayan Obo mine. In 2021, her biodesign work on the mycelial biopolymer PermaPak won the Barilla Prize for Regenerative Living Ecosystems and was published in Issues of Science and Technology.



MFA Studio, Art & Technology Studies, SAIC

BSc, Biology and Visual Art, Union College, Schenectady, NY



Research Studio Transfers, Spring 2024

Art and Technology Practices, Fall 2023

Core Studio Transfers, Fall 2023

Digital Interfaces: Professional Practices I, Low Res MFA Program, Summer 2023 

SAIC Departments of Contemporary Practices, Art and Technology / Sound Practices, and Low Residency MFA Program

Select Exhibitions


Funnel & Switch, Ars Electronica Festival, Linz, Austria
REFUGIA, Sweet Lorraine, Brooklyn, NY

Lighting the Metaphysical, Chicago, IL

Wastelands, Chicago, IL

SPACORE, Co-Prosperity, Chicago, IL
Benthos of the Synthetic Suns, SAIC Galleries, Chicago, IL



SPACORE, MdW Fair, Chicago, IL
Pan Tilt Zoom, The Wrong Biennale, international & online



Cassiopeia’s Perspective, SAIC Galleries, Chicago, IL

Where We Emerge, Ars Electronica Chicago Garden, Chicago, IL



Reality used to be a friend of mine, Selenas Mountain, Queens, NY

ExFest, NewArt.City, international & online

Moldable, injectable, extrudable,, Queens, NY
Wash Your Corners, Ross + Kramer, New York, NY (media designer, 3D animated installation for Dominique Fung)
Home Body, SPRING/BREAK Art Fair, New York, NY (production designer)


Paradice Palase Anniversary, Brooklyn, NY
Art404 at Google HQ, New York, NY


Publications & Press

Amari Keller, ‘How It’s Made: Benthos of the Synthetic Suns by Kelly Xi’, SAIC News, 2023
Erin DeMuth Judd, ‘Art and Science: A natural match’, Union College Magazine, Art at the Intersections, 2023
Annette LePique, ‘Serenity, NOW’, Chicago Reader, 2023
Joan Roach, ‘MdW Art Fair at Mana Contemporary’, Sixty Inches from Center, 2022

Can Fungus Fix Our Plastic Problem?’, Issues in Science and Technology, 2021
It’s 2071, Are We Still Human?’, Biodesigned Magazine, Interspecies Issue 08, 2021
Peyton Sauer, ‘Students Create Plastic Packaging Alternative for a Sustainable Future’, SAIC News, 2021


Barilla Prize for Regenerative Living Ecosystems, Biodesign Challenge, 2021
Together Art Grant, SAIC, 2022
Full Tuition Scholarship, The Alternative Art School and Metabolic Studio, 2023
Dean’s Scholarship & Incentive Scholarship, SAIC

Presidential Scholarship, Union College

Service & Leadership 

Exoskeletons for Photic Current: Hot Glass Workshop, Art & Technology Department, SAIC, Fall 2022

Learning and Mending Series facilitator, Metabolic Studio, Spring 2023

Graduate Teaching Assistant:
Brave N3w_B0d1es, Fall 2022
Computer Vision & Machine Learning, Spring 2022
Neon Techniques, Summer 2022
Synthetic Futures Biodesign, Spring 2021
Art and Technology Practices, Fall/Spring 2020, 2021
Contemporary Practices Fall/Spring 2020, 2021


Digital Potters Cooperative, founding member, 2022-present


Chicago Neon Community Cooperative, Development writer, 2022-present


Neon Technician, SAIC Department of Art & Technology, 2022-2023

Dinner.TN, artist-run project space co-founder, 2019-2020

ABSTRKT, production designer & media designer, 2019-2020

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