A Leisurely Evening with Ceramicist Gary Erickson
On the evening of Nov. 15, a still balmy Minnesota date, a diverse group of 50 interested viewers gathered at the party room of Gramercy Park to listen to ceramicist Gary Erickson regale us with his 8 delightful summers in Jingdezhen, porcelain city of China. Gary showed us photos of Jingdezhen now and at the turn of the last century. Surprisingly little has changed in its geography or its tradition of producing Chinese porcelain. It remains labor intensive and people driven. There were video clips of its age-old water-powered hammer mills crushing china stone, multi-person teams throwing more than 300 pounds of clay together in making sections of 15-foot tall vases, decoration factories, and a tile village producing porcelain tiles up to twelve feet long!
Gary also talked about learning to work with the Chinese super white porcelain clay (???) in Jingdezhen and reflect on its influence on his own porcelain sculptures. In describing his work Gary says: ‘Sensual forms, rhythms and growth systems of nature inspire my artwork. The characteristics of Jingdezhen’s unique clay has challenged me while translating my U.S., low-temperature, coil-built earthenware aesthetics into China, high-fire, porcelain slipcast work. The concept of Yin-Yang, the interaction of two energies that causes everything to happen, is the foundation for my slip cast porcelain sculptures that embody a unique natural elegance, simplicity and purity. Each form incorporates the spiral as a metaphor for the continuity of life. In Taoist thought, the spiral can be at once the beginning of all things and the way in which all things pursue their course. I also explore Yin-Yang’s complementary opposites such as the contrast of inside-outside, dark-light to reflect duality and interdependence. My interpretation of Yin-Yang becomes biographical as I consider my creativity with a life both in America and China. My symbiotic relationship with China is reflected in the interdependence of forms nestled within or balanced and perched on top of each other. These life experiences have made the work extremely personal and reflective of my growth as an international artist.’
The delightful evening started with a delicious dinner catered by Asia Bistro Catering. Owner Linda Tam prepared a special menu for us that included cucumber salad, sesame noodles, Chinese sausage in fried rice, ribs with green beans and filet of cod with choi sum. For desert she prepared special glutinous rice balls stuffed with ground peanuts and fresh Chinese fruit that included persimmons and papaya.