Dryden Wells and Two TTU SOA Alumni To Do Residency in China
Written by Douglas Chapman
Dryden Wells, a second-year ceramics graduate student from St. Louis, will be doing an eight-week residency in China this summer. Wells will be accompanied by two other Texas Tech School of Art alumni, Marie Weichman from Houston and Ian F. Thomas from Butler, Pennsylvania. The residency will take place at “The Pottery Workshop and Experimental Sculpture Factory,” located in Jingdezhen, China.
The Pottery Workshop is a newly created ceramics design studio. Situated in Jingdezhen, a center for porcelain in China, the village is inhabited by hundreds of small and independent workshops of craftsmen and artists with every kind of ceramic skill: clay producers, throwers, sculptors, mould makers, blue and white decorators, over-glaze decorators, glaze and color shops, kiln firing workshops, brush makers, black smiths, box makers and shippers. Objects made here are from fingernail size to twelve feet high, and are all made of porcelain.
“Jingdezhen has been and still is the capital of porcelain making in the world,” said Wells who attended a four-week residency in Jingdezhen last summer. “I am definitely looking forward to this trip and the eight weeks I will be spending there. I am also looking forward to working with Marie and Ian. I think this is going to be a very valuable learning experience for all of us,” he said. “The Pottery Workshop has everything in one place. I can take my ideas there and produce my pieces in less than half the time it takes here,” Wells continued. “Their process, from start to finish, takes about half the amount of time it would here. They should be experts at it- they have been doing it for centuries,” Wells added.
Marie Weichman is another artist who will accompany Wells. She earned her BFA from Sam Houston State University and received her MFA at Texas Tech in 2000. She is currently teaching at Houston Baptist University. “Because I work primarily with porcelain using multiples to express my ideas,” Weichman said, “the residency in Jingdezhen, China is specifically appropriate for me. They have a community of craftsmen working to mass-produce objects that are internationally distributed. This residency will enable me to further explore the production of multiples and ‘same but different’ ideas that are an integral part of my work,” she said.
Ian F. Thomas, a recent graduate of the ceramics MFA program in spring 2006, will also join Wells and Weichman in the residency program. Thomas earned his BFA at Slippery Rock University in Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania before coming to Tech. He is currently an instructor of ceramics at the Carnegie Museum of Fine Art. “I am interested in the rich history of Jingdezhen,” Thomas said. “I have worked in porcelain for quite sometime now. This material was introduced to me during my apprenticeship with American master, Edward Eberle at the Garth Clark Gallery in New York. My interest in this trip not only lies in the materials used, but also with the techniques performed by the men and women artists of Jingdezhen. I plan to focus on brush decoration while I am in China,” he said.
Weichman said the three of them are working on proposals to various galleries and museums in an effort to secure venues across the country for the exhibition of the work they produce in China after their return.