In June 2019 I had the fabulous and exciting opportunity to study abroad in China. The majority of the experience was focused in Jingdezhen, which is a beautiful little craftsman town in Jiangxi, China.
A study abroad experience for a ceramics student in Jingdezhen is nothing short of magical. The city has a long history with the production and trade of "white gold" or porcelain.
While abroad in Jingdezhen I was able to learn from ceramic masters, who did everything from make molds, to sculpting flowers to painting in cobalt and oil enamel.
Placed right in the heart of the "Sculpture Factory" students have access to public kilns, master mold makers, hand mixed glaze shops and other seemingly endless resources. Unlike American ceramics which focuses on the individuals craft, Jingdezhen is primed for production. It is said that a single work from here can be brought into life from as many as 28 different craftsmen. These specialized craftsmen are for hire, and available to help produce your work. A lot of the images am about to share are reflective of that collaborative process. Many of the forms where made from a mold I hired someone to make, all of the glazing and firing process was done by yet another craftsman. It was really liberating to be able to produce new ideas without the restraints of my own limited skill set, all I needed was my imagination and some money to hire others to help my dreams become reality.
This type of production focused process was completely different to my experience as an American potter. There is a sense of self righteousness in the western art world. This pretention that we as western artists have to have a skillful hand in every part of the process was a little hard to let go of at first. But the reality is, our ideas is what makes our art special, and although I do think it is important to be knowledgeable in your craft, there shouldn't be any sense of shame in using all the talents and tools you have at your disposal.
I gained a lot from my trip to China. I now use china paints as a regular part of my studio practice (see more of my china painted work here). I have certainly found a deep appreciation for the rich history pottery has in the Eastern world, and find myself very inspired by the richness in color, and the elaborate gourd forms you'll see so often in Chinese art museums. I had a really amazing art professor tell me once something along the lines of "the more art you see the more art you can make". Experiencing the diversity of the art world in China was a great way to expand my own personal ideas on art, and gave me a great opportunity to 'see more', thus enabling me to make more.
photo documentation of the journey