About the Exhibit

Part visual narrative, part sociological study, and part archival document, the exhibit was grounded in 101 vases from Jingdezhen, China’s porcelain capital. This show explored the dichotomy between manufactured goods and fine art as each vase is made to certain, unalterable specifications, then painted by various Chinese artists. The St. Olaf exhibit included objects by four contemporary Western ceramists whose works have been influenced by Jingdezhen porcelains: Barbara Diduk, Gary Erickson, Kate Fisher, and Steven Young Lee. The exhibit also included historical pieces on loan from the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

Co-curators of The Vase Project Barbara Diduk of Dickinson College in Pennsylvania and Zhao Yu of Hunan Normal University in Changsha, China, asked the first artist to paint a landscape incorporating Jingdezhen’s ubiquitous kiln stacks; each subsequent painter was asked to use the immediately previous artist’s work for inspiration, working with the same vase shape. These pieces are displayed serially, in the order completed. Linked to these works are a series of works by each Western ceramicist, all of whom have worked at Jingdezhen. In addition to works in the Flaten Art Gallery, ceramic works from the St Olaf College collection were also placed in various venues around St Olaf campus.

This exhibit was made possible by the Transformations Theme Year Fund, the St Olaf Freeman Asian Arts Fund, the Arnold Flaten Memorial Lectureship Fund, and the Department of Art and Art History at St. Olaf College.
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With special thanks to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, co-curators Kate Fisher and Karil Kucera, and the students of Professor Kucera’s Visual Culture in Modern China class: Daniel Anderson, Alexandria Dreas, Katherine Gambrell, Lauren Hagen, Ken Lin, Meredith Lockwood, Alexandra Mickle, Andrew Nail, Patrick Nuetzman, Ebele Nwokobia, Ian Peppel, Jakari Perry, Laura Romeyn, Catharine Struss, Luke Telander, Hannah Trumm, Kayla Yang.

The original exhibit flyer is available here and an exhibition essay by Karil Kucera is available here.  For more information on this exhibit, please contact co-curator Karil Kucera at kucera@stolaf.edu.