Marvelous ceramic artworks born to shine in a difficult time

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A number of marvelous and elegant ceramic artworks made by Tsinghua students are now on display for the 2022 Online Graduation Exhibition of the Academy of Arts & Design, Tsinghua University (AADTHU).

Marvelous ceramic artworks born to shine in a difficult time
An artwork by Huang Meixi, a student studying at AADTHU, on display in the academy’s 2022 online exhibition. [Image courtesy of AADTHU]

“Ceramics, a material invented by humans, is the closest form to ‘eternity,’ a very original and consistent topic in the process of human civilization, both in body and spirit,” wrote Bai Ming, the director of the Ceramic Design Department of AADTHU, on the graduation exhibition website. “Therefore, ceramic art is endowed with a universal aesthetic commonality and a language that transcends culture and ideology.”

“Ceramic art, in its unique way, comprehensively coordinates and enhances your work, mind, and your ability to withstand pressure, and the excellent works you have created during this extremely difficult pandemic period have given us more gratification and inspiration than a normal course,” Bai’s note continued.

The online exhibition showcases ceramic arts from 17 undergraduates and postgraduates, each with their own vision and artistic explorations and expressions. The AADTHU 2022 online graduation exhibition is currently underway. To view the online exhibition, visit https://exhibition.ad.tsinghua.edu.cn/2022/.

Marvelous ceramic artworks born to shine in a difficult time
Tsinghua students making ceramic artworks in class. [Photo provided to Chinafolk.org]

It was not easy for all of these works to be completed. As ceramic creation and teaching require more in-person mentoring and hands-on practice than other art forms, the pandemic brought increased bottlenecks to both teachers and students, who had to mostly rely on video links to participate in online classes. 

“As most of our classes used to rely on teaching in our laboratory and studios, I guess the ceramic design department may be the one hit the most by the pandemic. But we had to change, and adapt,” Bai said. 

The department of ceramics at Tsinghua now accepts only 10 students each year, making it one of the smallest university departments in the country. Several foreign students have also studied ceramics at AADTHU, to whom Liu Runfu, an associate professor of AADTHU, would always say, “Welcome to china within China.”

Nowadays, however, ceramics in China is less of an art, and more of an industry. The most important elements when making ceramics are consistency, oneness, and uniqueness. 

“We lost our uniqueness through mass production,” according to Liu. Liu, 48, has the ambition to revive the traditional handicraft, and hopes China will be the one making the rules in the future.

Marvelous ceramic artworks born to shine in a difficult time
An artwork by Yoon YooRan, a foreign student studying at AADTHU, on display in the academy’s 2022 online exhibition. [Image courtesy of AADTHU]
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