Eliza Au

Eliza Au | “Transition and Cross-Pollinating”

Eliza Au

Hymn to Calamity, 2007, ceramic, steel frame and lights, overall dia. 350.5 cm; height 208.2 cm.

“Transition and Cross-Pollinating: Investigating Ceramics and Other Materials”

The North-West Ceramics Foundation is pleased to announce Eliza Au as their their featured speaker at a free public lecture January 28, 2010 at 7:30 pm. The lecture will be held in Room 245 North Building of Emily Carr University of Art + Design (1399 Johnston Street, Granville Island, Vancouver). All are welcome to attend.

Ms Au is the first speaker in the NWCF’s new initiative to present the next generation of contemporary ceramic artists who will shape the future of the discipline. The daughter of Hong Kong immigrants, Eliza Au was born in Richmond, British Columbia, where she currently resides. She studied at Emily Carr Institute, Rhode Island School of Design, Nova Scotia College of Art + Design and the University of Regina prior to attending the New York State College of Ceramics in Alfred, New York, where she obtained her Master’s Degree in 2009. In 2005, she completed an internship in the Arts and Industry Program at the Kohler Factory in Kohler, Wisconsin, and in 2006, she was artist-in-residence for one year at the Museum of Contemporary Craft in Portland, Oregon. She has exhibited in numerous solo exhibitions including The Meditation of Order in Alfred, New York in 2009; Wreath/Wreathe at the Richmond Art Gallery and elsewhere in 2006-2007, and Hymn to Calamity, at the Contemporary Crafts Museum and Gallery in Portland in 2007. Group exhibitions include Module, at the Kelowna Art Gallery in 2009; In Progress: Alfred Graduate Ceramics Show at NCECA in Pittsburgh in 2008 and Worlds so Small in Regina in 2007.

Eliza Au

Cathedral, 2005, Anna Leonowens Gallery, Halifax

Au works extensively with moulds to produce the large numbers of identical units required for her ambitious installations. Moulds allow her to work across media, using metal, wax, glass, paper and other materials. The intrinsic properties of these materials inform her production and extend her ceramics practice. For large-scale works or for materials requiring specific skill sets, she employs contractors to fabricate elements from her designs. She refers to the capacity of different materials to influence each other through their intrinsic properties as “cross-pollination,” a concept that furthers her use of ceramics as an expressive tool for ideas. Her lecture will focus on factors affecting her informed and economical decisions regarding the use of these varied materials.

Conceptually, Au is interested in systems of symmetry, repetition and scale. She explores tessellated patterns that revolve around a central axis, a motif she identifies in both Western religious imagery including Islamic design and Gothic cathedrals, as well as Eastern forms of meditation and mandalas. She points to attributes of symmetry and repetition in the cycle of life, DNA patterns and the cosmos, with “its mathematical complexity, infinite repetitions and compositions.” These concerns are clearly manifested in Hymn to Calamity, a room-sized, semi-circular structure created over a period of six months during her residency at the Contemporary Crafts Museum in Portland in 2007. The work consists of 231 slip-cast ceramic forms, a metal frame and electric lights; it creates a “sacred and sheltering” space” that envelops the viewer with a sense of calm and tranquility. Au frankly admits an interest in spiritual and personal exploration independent of any specific religious or philosophical system. Her use of ornaments and patterns drawn from a variety of contexts reflects her placement in a multicultural society comprising multiple traditions. Her complex and multi-level installations serve to “clarify, cleanse and simplify,” opening up a space where peace and healing can mitigate the disorder and conflict in our lives.

Eliza Au will speak on January 28, 2010, at 7:30, at Emily Carr University, North Building, Room 245. The lecture is free and open to all. We would love to see you there!