betterArts Resident Yikui Gu Subverts Patriarchal Institutions With His Work 'Lovers Melt'

"Orgy", mixed media, Yikui Gu

"Orgy", mixed media, Yikui Gu

Philadelphia-based artist Yikui Gu has come to the North Country for the betterArts Residency Program held at Better Farm in Redwood.

Yikui, who goes by Coy, has spent his time in Redwood working on drawings that are part of a larger series called "Lovers Melt." In the works, the artist seeks to subvert staunchly patriarchal institutions by "re-contextualizing the charged facial expressions" found there into the erotic. His drawings at the farm have been of screaming soldiers. "I hope the viewer finds these works to be both horrifying and hilarious," Yikui said of his work. 

Yikui has worked since 2011 as an associate professor of art at the College of Southern Maryland. He grew up in Albany, and has degrees from Long Island University and Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. He lives in South Philly, PA.

"Last summer I was awarded a residency at the School of Visual Arts in New York City," Yikui said. "I was given a private studio in Chelsea, Manhattan, met many interesting artists from around the world, received studio visits from the likes of Jerry Saltz, and immersed myself in the arts of NYC. It was an amazing, life-changing experience and I've kept in touch with many people I met while there."

Seeking a change of pace, Yikui chose Redwood because of the nature surrounding it. "I'm excited by how the natural surroundings will inspire me and influence my studio practice, and I look forward to meeting, getting to know, and possibly collaborating with the cohort of artists."

See more of Yikui's work at To learn more about the betterArts Residency Program, visit


Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.