Photos: Jane Huntington

China, Fall 2018

My dream of traveling to China, the birthplace of porcelain, to work in ceramics, came true in Fall 2018. I was invited as a Guest Artist to Taoxichuan International Studio in Jingdezhen, an extraordinary place where artisans and artists have worked in porcelain for over 2,000 years. Humbled and fully absorbed, I stepped into the creative stream of ceramics that dates back to antiquity.

In hand I brought my first small ceramic sculpture, Sphinx, and a host of inspirations lifted me. I was finally able to see the Tang Dynasty Zhenmushou, tomb guardians or earth spirits that I’d recently been studying. These grotesque, humoresque morphings of many animals were originally not viewed as art. I created two large sculptures, Oracle, Cixi and Oracle, Li Qingzhao, part of a series, Oracles, prophetic voices, that honor two extraordinary women, Cixi and Li Qingzhao, who served the Chinese people respectively as Emperor and as one of the most famous poets of the Song Dynasty.

The Vestigials, vulnerable creatures with only four limbs, are nestled among small landscape forms, many studded with flowers. The ‘landscape’ is a bed of flowers suggesting a funeral or decay, the cycle of life. The Oracle sculptures, inscrutable fierce guardians, watch over the vulnerable creatures, our fellow animals, who are threatened and vanishing all around us.