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Member Since 25 Sep 2012
Offline Last Active Jan 20 2013 01:51 AM

Posts I've Made

In Topic: How envy killed the crafts

20 January 2013 - 01:12 AM

The concepts of fine art, craft, design and visual art, performance art and new media are constantly shifting and being redefined in academia depending upon where you work and the resources that are at hand. Many institutions today seem eager to create art departments where the student has to figure out what they like and what they want to do for their final undergraduate capstone project and hope in the end that their work is accepted as a valid form of "visual art." This is the case where I am working now and where I have worked in Hong Kong and at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford. This type of undergraduate system requires the student to take more independent study classes from professors in the area that they want to have more skills in, such as painting or ceramics, and in the end to work closely with the professor of their choice on their final body of work. This creates a lot of extra work for everyone who has to teach independent classes without pay, but who also, conversely, get to produce a student who specializes in their favorite area of expertise. I have found that teaching ceramics in universities that only allow me to teach two ceramic courses that are on the books is very frustrating for me and the students. (We do not have ceramics where I am teaching at the University of Brunei in Darussalam because the large donated kiln will never run and nothing that I have requested by way of equipment has ever materialized.) Because the students can only take one or two independent ceramic classes including the capstone class after their initial two bonafide on the books classes (usually beginning ceramics and advanced) the students become despondent at being locked out of the ceramics lab during much of their undergraduate career. The reasoning behind this is to make them explore other types of art. Anyway, this notion of barely allowing students to specialize in one area of art is perhaps one of the reasons why everything and anything is now just called visual or performance art. Sometimes visual works are simply new media works depending on the title of the area or department where the artwork is being made. A lot of capstone final projects are amalgamations of anything and everything. As a professor I have to go into over-drive to make sure that all of my students can place their work into historical content and at least write an artists statement about their endeavors. Trying to grade all of this new hybrid work is another challenge. I guess that in the end the students themselves do not seem to care if their work falls under the category of fine art or craft, because along the way those terms have been lost. I think that the students feel that if the work is powerful and challenging that the "old" system for labeling their creations no longer matters. Anyway, I am just writing about art terms on one level of usage and not how other art makers or users or educators working under different conditions and settings might define them.

In Topic: Did any ceramics making related presents magically materialize for you this h...

02 January 2013 - 03:38 AM

Shards and more shards thrown-up by the Hong Kong’s ocean currents, that’s what I put under my Christmas tree this year. I was lucky to visit Hong Kong during Christmas this year (my husband and I often go there during the holiday season to visit his family) and I was able to get a ferry to one of my most treasured beaches for collecting shards from the South China Sea. This year I found a couple of shards with the whole oval design of my favorite blue and white motif—a stylized folk-art linear crane (bird) with the what appears to be the body and tail of a fish. In addition to locating my cache of shards this year (I have been recontextualizing them as elements in my latest body of conceptual sculptural work) my husband and I traveled by ferry to the city of Zhuhai where we found several whole teacups decorated with this simple pattern! I was thrilled to be able to afford two of these vintage cups and finally be able to add them to my collection of daily ceramic ware from a few generations ago. (I would describe these teacups as once-common goods from a by-gone-era that are old, but not bona fide antiques.) I like collecting unbroken old ware that was once produced in the regions around Hong Kong because these rather roughly produced types of china represent the kinds of dishes that people in the region regularly used.

Kong and I were happily surprised to find several teacups bearing the crane pattern design in the tea-ware shop in Zhuhai because up until this time I had only been able to locate a degraded version of this cobalt transfer design, which had been shoddily applied to very crude bowls that were being sold in a Hong Kong store specializing in restaurant supplies and dishes. The bowls were crammed under a lot of other merchandize in the back ofthe store and even the owner had forgotten about them. Although the Zhuhai teacups are not really old antiques, they were a bit costly just the same. (As Hong Kong and China becomes grander, it also becomes all the more expensive.) The rest of the lovely shop where I stumbled upon the crane patterned teacups was crammed full of very expensive Yixing teapots and heavenly blue and white porcelains. Everything, including the tea was beyond my pay grade as a Senior Lecturer at the University Brunei Darussalam. (Kong and I made the over-night trip to Zhuhai so that we could leave a copy of my book and other materials with our acquaintance, the Vice-Chancellor of the United International College inZhuhai. We also had lunch with the faculty responsible for arranging student exchange positions in the hopes of learning about any possibilities for sending our students abroad. None of this was sponsored by these institutions, so I was frugal with my Christmas money this year and only purchased the twolovely crane bowls to put under our tree.)

I hope that next year that I can again visit Hong Kong for Christmas to collect more shards and perhaps buy a piece of Chinese history by way of, once common, but now rare, service-ware.

In Topic: Why are you addicted to clay? | Q.O.W. 12/11/12

18 December 2012 - 04:31 AM

Until now my clay addiction has not really driven me to record extremes in behavior. However, now that I have been without fresh commercial clay for over a full semester in Brunei Darussalam I find myself doing things to get an "earth" fix that few people seem willing to subject themselves to-I havAttached File  small-file-Berakas Beach.jpg   1.36MB   3 downloadse been trekking about in the blistering sun on the island of Borneo just to be close to a natural clay site that happens to exist down the road from where I work. I actually taught a university ceramics class last semester without clay or a working kiln. Obviously the students got credit for learning about ceramics in name only because I actually taught sculpture using salvaged driftwood and debris from the beach, since that was all that we could scavenge and work with. (I was not able to teach students about using found clay because it was not feasible.) My teaching a found-objects sculpture course was made easier by having very talented students who were willing to try making 3D work from what ever we could find, but I was still disappointed that I could not show them how to work with clay in any capacity. In my desire to find clay I have located some amazing nearby deposits of clay outcroppings that are decked-out in pitcher plants. These beautiful outcroppings occupy a small area near a public beach and concrete furnished BBQ site that is very popular with the local weekend crowd. The awesome clay and sand formations carved from sedimentary earth, are pretty much ignored by everyone because natural wonders like these are woefully under-appreciated by most people except die-hard outdoor enthusiasts like myself who swoon at the sight of minimalist natural splendor. Anyway, I am addicted to clay because this fabulous material from the earth can be appreciated and made into art using all manner of media. Currently I am making art from clay by just photographing it in situ. So, while I may not be able to continue with my ceramic work while I am teaching at the University of Brunei Darussalam, I am able to take pretty spectacular (in my opinion anyway) photos of clay in its wild state as a substrate for pitcher plants and other kinds of costal flora. Also, there are beautiful rocks to die for lying in small desert-like baked fields in the areas hidden in-between the bad-land like formations. These round, richly glazed rocks can also been seen littering the slopes of these same formations. Literally glazed in rich iron-red and ocher hues and buffed by the wind, these rocks look like they have been varnished to resemble desert petty-plain (a geological formation where little stones lock together on the desert floor and are glazed dark on one side by minerals) stones have been basted with metallic minerals that have washed out of the clay and other bad-land like sediments that once covered them. After a heavy rain it is easy to spot the tea colored water and sticky clay flows that create small alluvial fans and dark mineral pools along Berakas Beach. These natural formations are in turn taken out to sea when the tide comes in. I am addicted to clay because even without a person to mold it, clay is beautiful and life affirming.

P.S. I sure wish that I had my at-home library to look up geological terms and phrases. For more accuracy about geology per say, please look up some of my comments in a more professional context. I am at a real academic disadvantage where I work because of a lack of resources and even books here.

In Topic: Do you work until inspiration hits, or wait for inspiration and then get star...

11 October 2012 - 03:05 AM

Due to my need to teach courses in various media, I find myself creating different bodies of work for each kind of material that I am using. I am not only inspired by the material itself, but of course I am also interested in seeing if there is a common thread or concept behind these various bodies of work. I would love to always work in clay, but when I find that I am without a studio, or that I have to take up another material, I can usually create work that I feel passsionate about given a little time.

In Topic: Chinese kiln gods and studio potters

11 October 2012 - 02:45 AM

I am trying to get a large donated front loading electric kiln working at the university where I teach in Brunei Darussalam. If this beast ever becomes operational I promise to make it a special kiln guardian. I have no idea of what the personality of this kiln will be like once it comes on line, but since it seems to have a lot of gauges and dials that look as though they came from a sci-fi movie from the 1950's, it might have a retro sensibility to it. I am sure that this kiln is a Sir or a Mrs. type of kiln. This kiln needs proper respect, especially since there are both Japanese and German sounding company names on some of the components. Maybe is could be a Mrs. Keramic-haussen Kiln. The control panel also has a large plastic putty and red colored bell on top that is in the shape of an air-wick solid. That is its most graceful feature. I really am open to suggestions as to what to name this kiln on which I am hanging all of my hopes of a future ceramic program on. If you have any ideas, please let me know.

I have thought hard and long about the name for the kiln and I have decided to call it, "The Portal Hostess with the Magnetic Resonator." This kiln really does have a magnetic resonator because there is a press-label with raised lettering that points this feature out.