My work has always dealt with identity, with the sense of being in-between, an imposter, neither fully Chinese nor Caucasian. I have learned to live with the constant question about my appearance: “What are you?”
Jennifer Ling Datchuk received her BFA from Kent State University in Ohio and her MFA from the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth. As an undergraduate, she studied in Ghana, West Africa, and at the Sanbao Ceramic Art Institute in Jingdezhen, China. She returned to Jingdezhen in 2011 and 2015, participating in residencies at the Pottery Workshop. In 2016, she was awarded a residency through the Blue Star Contemporary Art Museum at the Künstlerhaus Bethanien in Berlin, Germany and was a Black Cube Nomadic Museum Artist Fellow. Recently, she completed a residency at the European Ceramic Work Center in the Netherlands and was awarded the Emerging Voices Award from the American Craft Council. She currently lives and works in San Antonio, Texas.The daughter of a Chinese immigrant and granddaughter of Irish and Russian immigrants, Datchuk draws on personal and family histories of conflict to investigate her biracial identity. Although trained in ceramics, she makes use of a wide variety of materials including porcelain, human hair, her own body, fabric and embroidery. Her work with porcelain represents a nod to her Chinese heritage as well as to notions of “pure white”—the white desire she finds in both Asian and North American culture. In Clean and Bleed (2012), she quotes an old Chinese saying, “One whiteness can cover three kinds of ugliness,” implying that fair skin can “cover up” one’s faults. The series includes a group of porcelain domestic objects—mirrors, gloves and powder puffs–displayed within a variety of decorated containers, suggesting that, if kept hidden, these objects can protect their secrets. Star Crossed Visitors (2016), a more overtly political work, references a phrase used to describe Chinese residents who were deemed foreign and thus forced to live in racially-segregated neighbourhoods. Referring to the American Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which was not repealed until 1942, the installation includes a large concrete laundry tub near the original site of a Gold Rush era Chinese laundry, which is cordoned off by a rope made from human hair dyed bright-red. Blackwerk 2016[/caption]Datchuk explores global migrations of beauty and identity using the blue and white pattern decoration emblematic of Chinese porcelain. In her talk, she will discuss her work and elaborate on research conducted in China, Germany and the Netherlands regarding the migration and interpretation of cobalt painting on ceramics. Jennifer Ling Datchuk’s free public lecture will be held Sunday, September 23, 2018, at 2pm in Studio 103 at the Shadbolt Centre for the Arts (6450 Deer Lake Avenue, Burnaby, BC). We look forward to seeing you there.
For more on Jennifer Ling Datchuk, please visit her website.