Arts & Life, Fine & Performing Arts

Artist tells stories of her childhood in animal-themed metalworks art piece

Varieties of work by students in the metals and jewelry program were presented at the metal group show opening reception Feb. 9 in the West Gatov gallery. Earrings, necklaces, bowls and spoons were among the several pieces showcased. 

Yucen Liu, a metalworks and jewelry graduate student at Long Beach State, presented her metalwork piece, “Mom said if I accidentally eat watermelon seeds,” at the gallery opening reception. The feature component of the art piece, a detailed bear head with watermelon flowers emerging from the top, was inspired by a childhood tale.

According to Liu, one of the most important things for her when creating art is ensuring that the message is transferred from her work to other people. 

“I liked doing small craft[s] when I was a kid and it made people feel happy,” Liu said. “When seeing my work, they have the same feeling about the same story…it reminds them of their childhood too.” 

Liu is currently working on a metalwork series featuring different animal centerpieces. “Mom said if I accidentally eat watermelon seeds,” prominently featuring a bear head in the center of the art piece, is one of many from the collection. Other pieces in the collection include a seal, penguin, turtle and rabbit, but those were bigger in size.


'Mom said if I accidentally eat watermelon seeds,' a metalwork piece created by Yucen Liu will be on display at the West Gatov Gallery Feb. 9-13.

Karla Gutierrez/Daily Forty-Niner


According to Liu, the theme of animal sculptures originated from her childhood stuffed companions. 

“I’m from China and the only child in my family,” Liu said. “My parents got me the animal toys when I was young and, growing [up], those were my little companions because I don’t have a sister or brother. Those animals gave me the feeling of home and security.”

Sheet metal, copper, brass and sand were some of the elements Liu utilized in creating the piece. 

Starting with a cold, hard piece of metal, Liu would start the process by heating it over a fire. Once the material reaches a certain temperature, it becomes softer and malleable, allowing Liu to shape and form the metal to whatever shape she wants. 

“My work takes longer… like a couple of months,” Liu said. “You can see in all the hair texture of the bear, that took me one month. My work is more complicated.” 

Liu chose “Mom said if I accidentally eat watermelon seeds” for the metal show because she believed it best fit the environment of the rest of the exhibit. 

“I want to bring this element in my work and the animal as the main character because every piece is a narrative piece. Those are all from my childhood and each piece is a narrative from one of my childhood memories,” Liu said. “I use the animal to present all of my memories.”

“Mom said if I accidentally eat watermelon seeds,” along with other art pieces from the metal group show can be found in the Gatov West gallery by the CSULB Art Store. The metal group show will be on display Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from noon to 5 p.m. and Wednesday from noon to 7 p.m.

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