Left to Right- The Good Life, Miessen, Johann Kaendler, 1762 and Specimens for Ash Fest
This semester I had the opportunity to visit the Prairie Museum of Art and History in Colby Kansas where I saw the ceramic porcelain Miessen piece entitled “The Good Life” by Johann Kaendler. This piece of Miessen inspired some of the chosen artifacts in each sedimentary specimen that I made for a wood firing conference called AshFest that I’m attending this summer. “The Good Life” made me think about choosing unique everyday objects/artifacts associated with social festivities as instead of solitary activities.
Glenda Taylor Pitcher Image Credit- http://www.redlodgeclaycenter.com/resident-info.php?id=20#
Extraordinary, dedicated, understanding, and generous, these are just a few adjectives of an endless list that described Glenda Taylor; but words fall short. Glenda was one of my life teachers and a close friend. I had the privilege of being one of Glenda’s undergraduate students in ceramics at Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas where she nurtured my love of clay and cycling. Students were Glenda’s number one priority and she was always willing to stop her day in order to help a student in need. When I would thank Glenda for the gifts she had given me through her mentorship she would simply reply, “Pass it on”. This was Glenda, the silent hero who gave and expected nothing in return. Glenda touched many people’s lives in a positive way as a dedicated teacher, department chair, athlete, and passionate leader in her community. A memorable phrase she once said to me was “Whatever you do with your life, you do it with gusto and passion.” We should all strive to work at Glenda’s high level of dedication and live our lives with the same gusto and passion that Glenda has so beautifully role modeled not only to me, but to all her students.
Yang Jiechang's installation piece "Underground Flowers" Photo Credit- https://www.artsy.net/artist/yang-jiechang-yang-jie-cang
Yang Jiechang was born in 1956 Guangdong Providence China, studied at the Guangzhou Acadamy of Fine Art ,and currently lives in Heidelberg Germany. Jechang uses his technical painting skill and understanding of traditional Chinese aesthetics and makes these traditions visible on contemporary forms and contexts. His work questions social and political issues and is part decorative and part archeological display. The piece entitled Underground flowers is a consideration of the passage of time and a cruel political regime. Each bone in this exhibit was meticulously cataloged and up for sale, one bone per person, pointing out how people often become pawns during times of political regime. Perhaps the conceptual accuracy of this piece relates to the artist’s experience of leaving China after the cold war at age 33.
A scaled model of Beijing’s Central business district complemented by a bed of rice by Jie. Photo Credit- http://www.netsvictoria.org.au/zhou-jie
Zhou Jie was born 1986 in Hunan China and studied at the China Central Academy of Fine Arts where she specialized in sculpture. Jie chooses to use ceramic materials because she considers fired clay to be the most representative material of her country (China). She uses porcelain specifically for its fragile qualities and makes a comparison to the fragility of life and civilization. Porcelian is a symbol of China how fragile civilizations are. Jie’s work illustrates the balanced tension between nature and man and she see’s humans and urban sprawl as a plague. The growths on the buildings are her impressions of viruses and bacteria. This piece is a scaled model of Beijing’s Central business district complemented by a bed of rice, yet another symbol of China.
"Fragile" on the left and "Reflection" on the right. Photo Credits- http://caiguoqiang.com/
Cai Guo-Qiang was born 1957 in Quanzhou City China and trained in stage design at the Shanghai theatre academy. While in Japan he researched the potentials of gun powder as a drawing material and this technique is what he is most famous for. Guo-Qiang’s work combines eastern philosophy a variety of cultures with historical references. The piece entitled Reflection is the skeleton of a Japanese fishing boat resting on a beach of porcelain deities from Dehua, China. This work brings into question social identity and illustrates how artistic expressions from two different cultures can merge together. In 2012 Guo-Qiang was a part of a show in the Middle East entitled Saraab meaning Mirage in Arabic. The show depicted the connection between China and the Middle East from the Silk Road. Fragile was the first time Cai used gunpowder for calligraphy.
An installation of Cans by Lei Xue Photo Credit- http://www.galeriewinter.at/kuenstler/lei-xue/imago/
Lei Xue was born in Qingdao China and studied Oil painting in Shandong, China followed by studying free art at the Kunsthochschule in Germany. Xue has had several solo shows in Germany and been in the last two Art Basels. His work creates familiar and strange worlds for the viewer in order to depict the clash of old and new ways of in life. Xue opens a dialogue by combining old traditions and techniques into a contemporary form and format. Disposal of coke can compared to the tea ceremony. Motifs from the Ming Dynasty are hand painted on these porcelain coke cans. Xue finds a connection between the disposal of these cans from our contemporary world and the disposal of tea bowls after a traditional tea ceremony. His work suggests that old traditions shouldn’t be hidden or kept only for the past but incorporated and celebrated in everyday life.
When strolling through the ceramics section of a museum one can’t help but notice all the ceramic vessels that have been tediously restored. The idea of restoration implies that this piece had become flawed or broken through a series of events and is then restored as close as possible to its original state. The repairs are often laboriously disguised. Kintsugi is the Japanese art of fixing broken pottery with lacquer dusted gold and is a technique that is used in China, Vietnam, and Korea. The art of Kintsugi has similarities to Wabi-Sabi philosophies because the cracks, breaks and repairs are illuminated as moments in life and embraced, not hidden. These repairs are seen as enhancements and make the piece even more desirable for service. The different types of joinery associated with Kintsugi include- Gold Dust and Resin (the piece is glued back together with resin coated in gold dust), Pure Method ( the piece is glued back together with resin coated in gold dust and missing parts are replaced with gold parts) and Gold Plus (the piece is glued back together with resin coated in gold dust and missing parts are replaced with parts from an entirely different ceramic object). At one point the Art of Kintsugi became so popular that important ceramic vessels were broken in order to be a part of the Kintsugi process.
Stoneware with celadon glaze and Japanese lacquer repairs Longquan, Zhejiang province, China Photo Courtesy: Linda Ganstrom Art History Lectures
Stoneware and Pillow, these are two words that I never imaged being used together when describing a utilitarian object. Even though it may sound uncomfortable to sleep on such a hard surface stoneware pillows were actually quite practical for the time. During the Sung Dynasty most Chinese stopped cutting their hair after their teens, which provided some padding on the stoneware pillows while sleeping. In addition to helping maintain hairdos, sleeping on a hard surface cut down on parasite infestations such as lice and distanced the sleeper from other bugs and vermin. The pillows were often decorated with motifs, if not three dimensional scenes that depicted the sleeper’s social life pursuits of the time.
Tz'u-chou Stoneware Pillow from the Sung dynasty (960-1279) Photo Courtesy: Linda Ganstrom Art History Lectures
Ding or Ting ware pouring vessel from the Song Dynasty (960 – 1279) Photo Courtesy: Linda Ganstrom Art History Lectures
When flipping through images of contemporary art every now and then, I’m always confronted by a piece that just seems so contemporary, as if it was made yesterday. This Ding or Ting ware pouring vessel is from the Song Dynasty (960 – 1279). Characteristics of Song dynasty ware include refined delicate work and technical precision. I felt a connection to this piece through subject matter. My work often provides a memory pallet for the viewer of my surroundings in hopes of making them more aware of their own. I appreciate the subtleties in life that make all the difference. This piece looks like each component was taken from a separate place and then assembled into a harmonious and functional composition. Perhaps the maker was combining moments from his own daily life. This is a timeless piece because it looks freshly made and promises a deeper meaning on closer examination.
Dogs have always played an important role in my life, not only as companions but also as protectors. The Pekinese, a breed specifically bred for its lion like qualities, played a similar role for the Chinese during the Han Dynasty about 2000 years ago. Also known as the guard dog or Han Dog, sculptures of the Pekinese were kept near entry ways to homes during life and near entrances to tombs after death. These sculptures are one of the most common items found in the tombs most likely because of the belief that they could protect from evil. The Pekinese was appealing to royalty of the Han Dynasty because of its lion like qualities, symbolic of power and protections. The dogs had an aggressive nature, were bread for protection, and were only allowed to be owned by royal family members. Some Pekinese were bred to be small so that they could be kept up their owners sleeve and released for protection. In the Tang Dynasty Emperor Ming treated his dogs like royalty and even made one of his Pekinese a wife. During the Yuan Dynasty Kublia Khan made taking care of these dogs an art form. Throughout Chinese dynasties ceramic figurines of the Pekinese have often been found buried near their owners. The Pekinese breed is still around to this day.
Stoneware Tomb Guardian- Photo Courtesy: http://asianhistory.about.com/od/china/p/History-of-the-Pekingese-Dog.htm
Growing up, one of my favorite activities was to play and create with Legos. With these bricks I would build entire towns, creating new worlds and narratives. Having had this childhood experience I was fascinated with the ceramic models of buildings and towns found in Han Dynasty burials. The deceased was buried with a whole world of clay objects. Ceramic replicas of their home, town, tools, and everything they may need in the afterlife were buried with them. Tombs of the Han dynasty were also often built in the layout of the decease’s home that was one of the ceramic structures buried in the tomb. The wealthier the deceased was the more burial ceramics they were given. The detailed ceramic renditions of entire towns, complete with figurines has provided archeologists with a broader understanding of iens that were variety of burial ceramics that incorporated architecture ceramic structures bur of Han Dynasty architecture, technology, and life in general.
Han Dynasty Ceramic Replica of a Structure- Photo Courtesy: Linda Ganstrom Art History Lectures
A response to Chun Liao at Marsden Woo Article by Matthew Kangas Featured in Ceramics Art and Perception Issue 92, 2013
The quantity of small cylinders in Chun Liao’s installation at Marsden is impressive. The grouping of ceramic objects elevates what could be perceived as insignificant cylinders to a whole new level. Together the viewer is presented with a landcape, cityscape, or even a gathering of people. Some of the groupings even look like little family units. On closer inspection the viewer is rewarded with little glaze details, melted staples and coins on the surface of the vessels. With this installation Liao has successfully taken small units of space to create a greater and larger whole.
A Response to Neil Tetkowski Earth Fragments- Article by Adam Welch Featured in Ceramics Art and Perception Issue 92, 2013
Installation Show of Tetkowski’s Earth Fragments
The sculptures of Neil Tetkowski are a visualization of bundles of energy, some just about to burst. The stark white environment that the body of work Earth Fragments is displayed in, enhances the rough earth quality of these sculptural objects. Each sculpture is made from a cut up thrown disc. The disc form brings with it historical, contemporary, and utilitarian references. The disc is sliced up and then reassembled into a form that seems to release the inner workings of a timeless form.
Early Cycladic III–Middle Cycladic I Date: ca. 2300–2200 B.C. Culture: Cycladic Medium: Terracotta
During the late Neolothic the iron and copper rich Cyclades Islands were bustling with the creativity. From about 3200 BC to 2300 BC the Cycladic culture existed contributing many skilled stone, metal, and clay makers, who made well-crafted objects. The Cycladic art and its makers were well respected and revered by their contemporaries. To this day Cycladic art seems rather modern and still maintains a sense of fresh design. The occupants of the Cyclades Islands were constantly exposed to other customs, cultures, and advances in technology of the times because of their location on trade routes. It is thought that this exposure added depth to their objects and paved way for a more maturely designed object. A fine example of this is the Kernos Vase for Multiple Offerings an object probably used for flowers and food offerings to a deity. The form is composed of twenty five consistently sized small vessels in concentric rings set atop a pedestal foot. The piece is reminiscent of a contemporary tabletop centerpiece or candle holder.
Deep Bowl with Sculptural Rim Late Middle Jomon Period (ca.2500-1500 B.C.) Japan Earthenware: H 13 in.
The Neolithic Jomon culture of Japan led a sedentary life style from the fifth millennium to BCE to about the third millennium AD. As a culture who found sustenance through fishing, hunting, and gathering, the Jomon incorporated pottery into their lives as solution for everyday cooking and storage needs. The Jomon hand built their pottery from the bottom up with coils and no aid of a wheel. These objects are known for their herringbone surface decorations, created by pressing knotted rope that was twisted in opposite directions into the clay surface. This is also where the name Jomon is derived, meaning cord making. On what are presumed to be ritualistic forms the Jomon formed undulating and elaborate rims. This work is well thought out and visually sophisticated. The Jomon were making beautiful objects that not only met their utilitarian and ritualistic needs but were also beautiful objects. The Jomon utilitarian forms such as the Deep Vessel illustrate creative solutions for creating a functional form with the same stylistic qualities of a Jomon sculptural/ritualistic object. These are some of the same goals that I strive to meet in my work and it is fascinating to me that the Jomon makers from thousands of years ago were meeting some of the same basic needs and stipulations that the makers of today are.
A response to Quietly Continuing The Teapots of Tineke van Gils Article by Anthony E Stellaccio Featured in Ceramics Art and Perception Issue 92, 2013
A group shot of Tineke van Gils’s Teapots
Tineke van Gils is a dedicated potter who makes porcelain teapots, pairing a complicated form with a complicated material. The reductive process of wheel throwing and experimentation has yielded Gil’s extensive body of work. When displayed together the teapots are related by form and material only. Each of her teapots is unique and has individual character. Perhaps each teapot is a personification or maybe Gils views each one as a child that she is sending out into the world.
A Response to Living in the Present- Arlene Shechet at Meissen Porcelain and Sikkema Jenkins- Article by Jan Garden Castro Featured in Ceramics Art and Perception Issue 92, 2013
Arelene Shechet- A Kiln Inside Out
Arlene Shechet’s sculptures in the show living in the Present, immediately reference mass, the absence of it and hollowness. Not only do the clay forms reference being hallow but they are built with hallow forming methods. Shechet considers the entire object to be sculpture, including methods of display such as a pedestal. All construction materials are carefully chosen and chosen for very specific reasons. Each sculpture seems to be built with the formula base plus and object on top. Even though the ceramic sculpture may personify, look like, or seem to reference other things, they are non-objective. The glazed surfaces are the result of extensive glaze material research and testing. She doesn’t just fire to a cone but to very specific degrees. The process of making is reflected within the work.
Arretine cup signed by Tigranes, ca. 25 B.C.–10 A.D.; Augustan Roman Terracotta; H. 7 1/4 in. (18.4 cm)
Arrentine ware was made by the Romans and first produced near Arrezo, Italy just before the first century BC. This ware was mass produced and used for everyday purposes. An original form was created and then a plaster mold was taken from it. This mold was used for slip casting enabling efficient production. Arrentine ware has a very reflective surface finish and was made to look like glass. The iconography on the exterior registers matched those that would have been on silver plated objects of the time.
A Response to the work of John Williams- Rectification of Power Featured in Ceramics Art and Perception 2013 Issue 92
John Williams- Rectification of Power- Power line
John William’s series of works in Reflection of Power visually radiates. The pieces are rich with a vivid white and gold surfaces complimented by clean almost machined form. Williams’ thoughtful use of materials is another strong point. Combining the history and desirability of gold plated silver and porcelain is a tasteful way of adding depth to the work, making the choice in construction materials very valid. Through repetition the concept is crystal clear when the pieces are displayed together and the viewer is left with more to ponder. These objects are minimal and provide the viewer with just enough information to start a dialogue, making the work more accessible. Rectification of Power is a well thought out series of work that directly confronts the viewer.
Etruscan Hydria c. 550-500 BC, from Chiusi, Tuscany, Italy.
Bucchero pottery is an evolution of impasto pottery. Impasto pottery, a product of the Iron Age, was a dull gray-brown ware formed from a rough groggy clay body. Bucchero pottery replaced impasto pottery at the end of the 7th century BC. Bucchero ware was more attractive to customers than impasto ware because of the distinctive shiny black surface and wheel thrown form that Bucchero ware boasts. Bucchero forms were simply more sophisticated in appearance and process and soon became very prized possessions by consumers of the 7th to 5th centuries BC. Bucchero ware is pottery pretending to be metal ware. Not unlike today, metals such as gold and silver were considered very precious in Etruria. So, if one could not afford the real deal, why not purchase a look alike? The types of decoration more commonly found on metalwork were applied to Bucchero ware in an effort to make the pottery appear more convincing of metal materials. Some of these more common metal-working techniques or characteristics that were applied to the surface of Bucchero ware were ridged surfaces and curved over rims. The sharp lines in the form and in the surface of Bucchero pottery were also characteristic of beaten bronze. In early Bucchero pottery, engraved reliefs that were geometric or figurative in form were used for decorating the vessels. In the later forms of Bucchero pottery, heavy added or rolled reliefs were added. All these decorative styles were reminiscent of metalwork, whether it is Bucchero Sottile or Bucchero . In some cases Bucchero ware was covered in fine silver leaf to give an even more convincing appearance of true metalwork. There are only a few examples left of Bucchero pottery in the form of a vases, which have been covered with a thin layer of gold or silver leaf. This coating was meant to give the exterior a metalic appearance making them more precious. Bucchero ware was derived from Greek forms with a slight Etruscan twist being incorporated. Most Bucchero is some sort of utilitarian tableware such as drinking vessels, serving dishes for eating, or storage vessels. This was the beauty of Bucchero ware; it was made to be used.
A Response to the work of Hong-Ling Wee- Soft Lines Hard Edges Featured in Ceramics Art and Perception 2013 Issue 92
View of Hong-Ling-Wee’s Installation
Multiple, unit, individual details, these and other words come to mind when looking at Hong-Ling Wee’s work. The viewer is greeted by a wall with three six shelves three shelves high containing what appear to be houses. On closer inspection the viewer is rewarded with the unique depth and attention to detail on each house. Some windows are carved others are painted and some surface areas are weathered while others are ultra-pristine. The display is a crucial component in the success of this work, giving the viewer what could be comparable to an aerial view of a neighborhood or community. Wee’s work is an excellent example of taking ceramic objects to another level, making objects that are uniquely fulfilling as an individual objects and as individual objects within a group.
NCECA Student Perspectives- Contrasting Energies Developing a Personal Voice as an Undergraduate Eleanor Heimbaugh