The audio file for this article was produced by the Ceramic Arts Network staff and not read by the author.

Ceramics Monthly: How do you come up with the forms and surfaces that are prevalent in your work?

Jing Huang: I draw inspiration from the landscape of my hometown of Guilin, the scholar’s rock in my culture, and my early experiences practicing traditional Chinese painting and calligraphy. Instead of the linear way of making a sculpture from a sketch, design, or prototype, I handbuild my work part by part without a blueprint and assemble them together once I have plenty of components. For a sculpture that needs to stand upright, it is my intention to build it horizontally from the beginning to achieve an unknown structure.

Reminiscent of the ways of using color in Chinese painting, such as color washes, wet underpainting, and layers of color, my work is also comprised of multiple layers of ceramic materials, using a soft color palette and velvety glaze surfaces to mimic the Chinese pigments: azure blue, gamboge, malachite, and ochre. I fire my sculptures suspended on stilts, letting glazes run and pool with gravity and form, inviting a sense of nature and flow into the work.

1 Given, 3 ft. 6 in. (1.1 m) in height, handbuilt stoneware, glaze, fired to cone 04 in oxidation, slow cooled, painted MDF board, 2019. 2 Clouds Flow, 28 in. (71 cm) in width, handbuilt stoneware, glaze, fired to cone 04 in oxidation, slow cooled, 2021.

This unconventional and unpredictable way of making and glazing was developed through tireless experimentation during my graduate studies at Alfred University. In 2019, I spent an entire semester experimenting with different materials and processes, attempting to create works that moved beyond my imagination. Many of my pieces have the potential to stand in various ways. During the process of making, firing, and installing, the position of my work shifts and changes, to contribute new gestures and unique scenery. I pull elements apart from the past and rebuild them back together in the present. I approach this system as a way to rethink and rediscover my past to create new meaning.

CM: What excites you about the field of ceramics?

JH: Unlike languages, clay is a universal vehicle that allows me to express myself without barriers. I believe that ceramics can bring people together and unite us. I see more and more people sharing their voices through this medium from their distinct perspectives and experiences. My diasporic experience of traveling and living in different cultures has taught me how the power of interacting in diverse communities can affect an individual’s growth, values, mindset, and creativity.

The inclusion and diversity in the field of ceramics give me a sense of belonging. Everyone, regardless of their race, age, gender, or background, can enrich the existing conversation in the contemporary ceramic world by bringing their unique vision of living, working, and making meaning in the world. This diversity of perspectives excites me and inspires me to push the boundaries of what is possible in ceramics.

Topics: Ceramic Artists