Mixed Media

Michel Comte

Shanghai-born artist Yi Zhou

Artist Yi Zhou's latest sculpture has all the trappings of a Cold War – era secret, so she's appropriately mum about the details of its creation. What she will say is that it took help from NASA scientists to shape her medium, a translucent substance called aerogel, into a likeness of a human heart. For the Shanghai-born artist, the absorbent material — used aboard NASA's Stardust probe to trap dust from comet tails — represented a new artistic frontier. Cajoling some from the space agency took years. "I had to show them I was serious," she...

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