Chinese Folk Pottery: The Art of the Everyday by Marie Woo
October 12th – December 28th
As China rushes headlong into modernization, folk pottery struggles for existence. Dragon kilns that operated for centuries are cold and threatened by extinction.
This exhibition explores contemporary folk pottery produced within the diversity of ethnic minorities and Han people across China. The objects on exhibit were collected between 1995 and 2009, while kilns and pottery in remote regions were documented. The works are a cross-section of products by Tibetan, Dai, Miao, Bai and Han potters.
The exhibition examines pottery from three different perspectives: production values, functions, and aesthetics. While some of the techniques used in production are widespread throughout China, others are localized to specific areas or ethnic communities. Mass-produced plastics which have flooded the commercial markets in the last twenty years have reduced demand for folk pottery, posing a challenge to artisans from rural areas with these specialized skills and knowledge. In many cases, once thriving pottery villages with multiple kilns, home to numerous families of skilled potters, have shrunken to a single potter.
Throughout the 8,000 years of China's ceramic history, the vast majority of pottery produced has been utilitarian objects created for the average consumer. Ceramics on exhibit in museums and collected by connoisseurs often represent only the objects produced for the elite and economically powerful members of society. Objects of daily use have often been overlooked for critical appreciation of the techniques and aesthetics.
This exhibition presents a window of diversity and the rich tradition in Chinese folk pottery.