Updated – 04.01.08
Two TTU Ceramic Artists Invited to China for Exhibition
by Daniel Horsch
Ceramic artists Wesley Harvey and Dryden Wells have had their artwork displayed in numerous exhibitions across the US. However it is rare when an opportunity comes around that invites young American artists to exhibit their artwork in an exhibition clear across the globe. For these two, this rare opportunity was given to them by Professor Chen Guanghui, curator of the Shanghai International Ceramic Expo, which will include three ceramic works by each of them in an exhibition called, 2010 China-China, Series 1, Porcelain in Contemporary Discourse. The exhibition, which focuses on contemporary porcelain, is the first of three exhibitions which will take place every six months leading up to the final exhibition in 2010. In addition to being included in the exhibition, the two artists were invitated to be guests of the Shanghai Ceramics Art Association, sponsors of the exhibition, during the opening ceremonies for the exhibition on February 28th and 29th.
Wesley Harvey, originally of Van Buren, Indiana, graduated from Texas Tech in May 2006 with an MFA in ceramics from the School of Art and is currently working as Exhibits Preparator and Assistant Curator of Landmark Arts, the galleries of the School of Art. Dryden Wells, of Kirkwood, Missouri, is a 3rd year graduate student in ceramics, who completes his MFA work in May.
It began when Wells befriended Chen Guanghui during one of his two ceramics residencies in Jingdezhen, China, a thousand year old center for porcelain production. At that time Chen was looking for other American ceramists to include in an exhibition he had begun curating. That was when Wells introduced Chen to Wesley Harvey, a friend through his graduate studies in ceramics. “Guanghui and I just became friends and he asked me to suggest different artists in the United States who work with porcelain. I gave him Wesley’s contact information and Wes was able to show him his work. Guanghui became very interested,” Wells said about getting Harvey into the show.
For Harvey the trip was more than just an international exhibition on his resume. It was his first time out of the country, a giant leap outside of his comfort zone of Starbucks coffee, familiar exhibit walls and friendly voices that actually speak English. Prior to the trip Harvey was not too worried about the exhibition; it was the thought of traveling to China that made him feel uneasy. “I’m more worried about going to China because I’ve never left the country,” Harvey said.
Having already been to China twice, Wells was ready for his return, but mentioned he was looking forward to being in China as an artist rather than merely a visitor. In a description of a press conference for an art exhibition he attended the last time he was in China, Wells can’t wait to be more then a spectator. “There were microphones all over the place; the artists were treated like rock stars!” Upon their return from China, both Wells and Harvey reported that they too had received the “rock start” treatment, meeting the mayor of Shanghai and holding a press conference at the exhibit opening.
Wells and Harvey may not have the latest number one rock music hit, but their work has earned them an all expenses paid trip to China, which is nice for young artists. For a couple of regular guys, they may not consider it their “big” break, but it’s definitely a step ahead into the future. “For me it’s a pretty big deal,” Wells said who is honored simply to have to be invited to an event of this magnitude.
The exhibit, 2010 China-China, Series 1, Porcelain in Contemporary Discourse, was presented in the Shanghai Craft Arts Museum from February 28 through the May 10, 2008. The exhibition features 20 artists of international renown to show how the use of porcelain, which originated in China, has spread and flourished throughout the world in different ways and from different perspectives.