It has been twenty three years since I moved to the United States.
As I grow older and stopped caring all the small things I used to worry, translating one culture to another and uniting them within my limited vocabulary became my hobby. Then I decided to take this approach to ceramic art. How can I create ceramic work that unite us, connect us, and serve us all? Can I create craft work that offers hope and unification to people? Hopefully and possibly in a subtle, personal way?
This series is my quiet resistance against the current political situation in our time, of isolation and confrontation. Seems like we can use more of those reminders about how similar we are now than ever by exchanging stories and using small conversations, instead of abstract fear and anger. Many conflicts starts with the fear of unknown, which can be reduced easily by getting know each other. If we learn the strangers eat like us, think like us, and live like us, I think we can relax a bit more.
Thus my Genuine Fake China series come with two sides: one with Chinese/Japanese proverb, another with English equivalent (or a saying that has the same nuance). It is my attempt to construct a bridge over the gap and start conversations about so many profound ideas we share even in different periods, languages and cultures. While learning American English, I discovered that proverbs are an essence of the culture/language the people use, a condensed reflection of their philosophy. If there is a proverb in two languages that shares the same idea, I can comfortably say those two group of people think alike, at least on the specific subject. If the saying exists in multiple cultures, it would be a great proof that it's an universal idea.
It is easy for everyone to notice any differences between us, because they stand out, but it takes an effort to notice the same ideas because they are so natural for us. It is my scheme to blending in the well known fables, stories, songs, and proverbs into my functional work, to utilize their advantage of physical contacts by people as a conversation stater in our daily lives.
From that perspective, the goal of this series of work is not to create functional ceramics. The function is rather used a as one of the design elements such as size and color, in order to enhance the goal of delivering the message. For example, the subject of tea set was employed to enhance the purpose of "enjoying the peaceful conversation time together over tea and snacks" with plural cups, or the subject of married couple's Yunomi set was used to emphasize the format of a widely adapted monogamous marriage format before talking about how people actually live with it. The
In a way, these work are rather mimicking functional wares purposefully, to invite people to observe and touch the work more casually.
I hope this series of work will be a good reminder to everyone that no matter where ideas originated, things that appeal to us will become universal eventually, if they have a good use. So please use my teapot to serve a cup of green tea, maybe from Starbucks.