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jingdezhen, china. november 26, 2008 - ric swenson--second post

updated fri 28 nov 08


Ric Swenson on thu 27 nov 08

Hello again from China. Happy Thanksgiving to you all.

This came through in a solid mass of I added even MORE lines of space with this posting.

It has been a while since I last wrote. It has been a busy semester here at the University but now I find some time to write and fill you in on the activities here in JingDeZhen.

October 18 was the opening ceremony of the JDZ International China Conference here. The conference included forums and speakers at several venues around town. The trade shows, product presentations, lectures, demonstrations, exhibitions and competitions were held for five days. It was SRO at the opening ceremony where speeches were given by local leaders and professors and there was entertainment by student performers, who danced and sang which livened up the occasion. The 3 Universitys here in town all sponsored exhibitions of student and faculty works in clay. The city sponsored a contemporary exhibit in the main exh ibition hall that featured works by potters and sculptors from all over the planet. I was fortunate again this year to have one of my works exhibited and then collected by the city for their museum.

The Pottery Workshop sponsored a market in their large courtyard where University students and recent grads could sell their work. There were over 100 booths. The work had to be contemporary and no traditional designs were allowed. The Pottery Workshop sponsored an exhibit of NCECA members' work and also held a wheelthrowing competition. That was fun to watch! It was like a ceramics olympics, except that some of the competitions had the potters wearing a blind fold and later having to throw wearing heavy rubber gloves. In one contest, the competitors had three minutes to make as many 30 cm tall cylinders as they could. The winner made 5 in three minutes. Not pretty, but pretty fun to w atch. They had 10 Shimpo Whisper wheels set up on a stage and hundreds of people watched. That afternoon they held a concert of country music. Caroline Cheng's husband is a musician and his three piece group visited JDZ from ShangHai for an afternoon of country/western and even some Mongolian songs. Guitar, banjo and mandolin, as well as harmonica, had everyone movin' and groovin'.

San Bao sponsored some events out at their studios in the countryside. Unfortunately I didn't have time to make it out there this year.

NCECA held a conference (SHARED JOURNEYS: American Art in China) here on campus in conjuction with West Virginia U. / JCI. I listened to Val Cushing, Linda Arbuckle, Jin Wen Wei and many other speakers during the week of Oct 27-31. Discussions between faculties centered around how we teach ceramics in the East and the West. The influx of about 70 Americans on campus for a week was thrilling for the students. That pretty much doubled the number of foreigers in JingDeZhen. There were demonstrations by Chinese and American craftspeople alike. Throwing, trimming, coiling huge jars, decal work, brushmaking, you name it.

Glen Blakly, ( who was photo-documenting the entire conference for NCECA, and I had an interesting opportunity a couple weeks ago to be bit players in a TV series being filmed here in JDZ. Four Americans were selected to portray merchants who have come from Europe at the turn of the century ( C.1900 ) to visit a JDZ ceramics factory owned by a successful businessman. It took about 5 hours total and was fun to do. Costumes were appropriate and as it turned out we acted with two of China's most famous actors. The role of the businessman in this series is played by Xia Yu and his wife is played by Yi Neng Jing. Of course none of us knew about their fame, but the young JCI English faculty members that went with us that day to help with translations etc. were shocked and delighted to meet these two 30 year old actors. Both of them spoke English pretty well....and of course they are both VERY good looking.

JCI and City of JDZ have just released a 4 DVD documentary set on the History of JingDeZhen Porcelain. It will air on CCTV -10 the Education channel at some point, but they gave me a copy because I did the English proofreading and English narration. Each episode is 30 minutes long and it describes in some detail what historians, archeologists and experts have learned about JDZ's 1700 year old traditions in clay. The photography is good and it documents the many various styles of work done here historically. There are actually 8 DVDs in the set.....four in Chinese and four in (mostly) English. There are some sub-titles when needed too.

We have our first student for the new JCI _STUDIO program already and we are hoping more will come soon. If you are interested in an inexpensive but informative program in the Porcelain Capital, just e-mail me directly.

I'm heading back to Atlanta Dec 20 for a couple weeks with family and friends.....but first I have to finish giving finals to my 200+ students! Hard to believe I have now lived here nearly 3 years.

Zai Jian,


Richard H. ("Ric") Swenson, Teacher, Office of International Cooperation and Exchange of Jingdezhen Ceramic Institute, TaoYang Road, Eastern Suburb, Jingdezhen City.JiangXi Province, P.R. of China. Postal code 333001. Mobile/cellular phone : 86 13767818872 < RicSwenson0823>

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