Date of Award
Master of Fine Arts (MFA)
My thesis seeks to explore the unknown forces that are constantly shaping our lives. I am intrigued by the intangible connections that link people, objects, and places together, and how they manifest across space and time. As a ceramicist emphasizing both interiority and tactility, my work will dissect layered ideas of closeness and disruption in order to reveal a nuanced understanding of how we exist in perpetuity with what can’t be seen. I wish to explore this topic through carefully directed installations that emphasize intimacy and engagement among audience members. Through inspiration from my past experience, childhood memories, as well as my Chinese cultural background, to create an immersive environment using clay as a narrative tool, with interactions between physical objects becoming symbolic representations of the powerful bond that exists regardless of distance.
My art practice intends to explore the relationship between tangible materials and intangible ideas. The “pink glaze” is an essential part of my artistic practice, providing a perfect echo for the concept I am working with. The Ceramics term "Chrome-Tin Pink" refers to specific ratios of Chrome Oxide and Tin Oxide that create distinct shades of pink in a glaze recipe. By removing the Chrome Oxide from the recipe and firing it separately with a glaze containing Tin Oxide, a unique artistic transformation is created. When the colours of green and white come together in this combination, they form an ethereal pink that shifts in depth depending on their placement during firing. If placed relatively far apart during the firing process, a pale hue appears; yet when closely united, more vibrant shades can emerge ranging from warmer pinks to burgundy-reds at the center.
The complex process of ceramics crafting involves a myriad of steps and techniques, many of which remain unseen to the casual observer. One of these steps happens within the depths of a closed kiln and is only revealed when the binding heat is relieved. I find these aspects of connection to be mysterious and fascinating. When I remove the parts coated with Chrome Oxide, the dream-like nature of my piece is enhanced. By working with this glaze chemistry, it almost feels like I am manipulating the surface of the ceramic pieces with invisible forces or unseen hands, evoking a sense that something has occurred there before me even if no physical contact had been made.
This "crime scene" often silently impacts those that remain unaware, affecting them willingly or unwillingly by osmosis even though their physical presence and contact with it may not exist. It is as if something invisible bleeds out from the silence, reminding us that we are deeper than our everyday lives suggest; interconnected in ways beyond our control. Through this particular technique, I animate the notion of connection within my artworks, exploring their intricate yet fragile relationship with one another. It is in this delicate interplay between elements which I hope to better understand the ebb and flow of human connection with our past.
Chen, Dora, "Green + White = Pink" (2023). Masters Theses. 1006.
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