JENNIFER LING DATCHUK

OUR AMERICA/WHOSE AMERICA?

2022 | Group Exhibition at Ferrin Contemporary | North Adams, MA

Our America/Whose America? Is a “call and response” exhibition between contemporary artists and historic ceramic objects.

View the exhibition page HERE & View the historic collection HERE

Featuring Made by American Chinese/ Made by Chinese American

MADE BY AMERICAN CHINESE/ MADE BY CHINESE AMERICAN


Inspired by porcelain export ware shoes, I made a mold of a blue and white Victorian style boot and altered it to make cowgirl boots.Decorated and adorned with recontextualized imagery from the past to speak about current times, these boots depict my experiences of being a first generation, daughter of a Chinese immigrant.

LIVE TO DIE


Red doormats that say “welcome” in Chinese and English are found in front of almost every Chinese restaurant and business all over the world.  These mats are markers for crossing thresholds, the objects below our feet that welcome or receive us as we work, spend, desire and consume.  This red is symbolic of good luck and fortune in Chinese culture but synonymous with anger and passion.

EXOTIC AF


Exotic – a descriptor every Asian woman has probably heard and includes anyone that is foreign and different but beautiful and usually comes with a comment about your eyes. 

b. 1980, Warren, OH
lives and works in San Antonio, TX

 

Jennifer Ling Datchuk is an artist born in Warren, Ohio and raised in Brooklyn, New York.  Her work is an exploration of her layered identity – as a woman, a Chinese woman, as an “American,” as a third culture kid.

Trained in ceramics, Datchuk works with porcelain and other materials often associated with traditional women’s work, such as textiles and hair, to discuss fragility, beauty, femininity, intersectionality, identity, and personal history. Her practice evolved from sculpture to mixed media as she began to focus on domestic objects and the feminine sphere. Handwork and hair both became totems of the small rituals that fix, smooth over, and ground women’s lives. Through these materials, she explores how Western beauty standards influenced the East, how the non-white body is commodified and sold, and how women’s – globally, girls’ – work is still a major economic driver whose workers still struggle for equality.

Datchuk holds an MFA in Artisanry from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and a BFA in Crafts from Kent State University. She has received grants from the Artist Foundation of San Antonio, travel grant from Artpace, and the Linda Lighton International Artist Exchange Program to research the global migrations of porcelain and blue and white pattern decoration. She was awarded a residency through the Blue Star Contemporary Art Museum to conduct her studio practice at the Künstlerhaus Bethanien in Berlin, Germany and has participated in residencies at the Pottery Workshop in Jingdezhen, China, Vermont Studio Center, European Ceramic Work Center in the Netherlands and Artpace in San Antonio, Texas.  In 2017, she received the Emerging Voices award from the American Craft Council and in 2020 was named a United States Artist Fellow in Craft.  

She is an Assistant Professor of Studio Art at Texas State University and lives and maintains a studio practice in San Antonio, Texas.

Jennifer Ling Datchuk, “Made by Chinese American”, 2022, porcelain, human hair, 7 x 3 x 12”

ON MADE BY AMERICAN CHINESE/ MADE BY CHINESE AMERICAN

Inspired by porcelain export ware shoes, I made a mold of a blue and white Victorian style boot and altered it to make cowgirl boots. Decorated and adorned with recontextualized imagery from the past to speak about current times, these boots depict my experiences of being a first generation, daughter of a Chinese immigrant.

I live with the constant question of “What are you?” and these capture my experiences of being half or both. The fringe of these boots are made from Asian hair that has been bleached and dyed to various colors. The global migrations of the hair industry from Asian to the West mimics the trade and migrations of Chinese porcelain as it traveled the world.

Jennifer Ling Datchuk, “Live to Die”, 2019, 40 mats, Custom-printed red welcome mats, porcelain, each mat is 30.5 x 22”

ON LIVE TO DIE

Red doormats that say “welcome” in Chinese and English are found in front of almost every Chinese restaurant and business all over the world.  These mats are markers for crossing thresholds, the objects below our feet that welcome or receive us as we work, spend, desire and consume.  This red is symbolic of good luck and fortune in Chinese culture but synonymous with anger and passion.

The pallet rack with the stacks of mats embossed with the phrase “Live to Die”, a morality statement found at the bottom of alphabet samplers from the 1800’s.  This phrase stitched onto linen by the hands of young girls who probably did not fully understand the darkness and futility of these words.   

Disrupting the perfect stacks of doormats are golden figurines of a young Asian girl, barefoot, wearing a rice picker’s hat, and carrying a heavy load on a shoulder yoke.  They become buried under the weight of the mats, hidden and obscured but we know they are there.  Her labor and presence are invisible to the objects we so easily order and buy but so much a part of this cycle of consumption and fulfillment.  

I often think of the label “Made in China” and how its associated with objects that are cheaply and poorly made.   What makes their labor and bodies any less than that of American labor? We need to acknowledge and confront the capitalist systems in place that have created an American ruling class that for decades have put profits over people and continually exploit global inequality. 

Jennifer Ling Datchuk, “Exotic AF”, sideways view, 2017, porcelain, blue and white willow ware ceramic shards from Germany, Netherlands, Japan, England, China, and USA, acrylic, 15 x 9 x 8”.

ON EXOTIC AF

Exotic – a descriptor every Asian woman has probably heard and includes anyone that is foreign and different but beautiful and usually comes with a comment about your eyes. 

Exotic AF consists of a figurine from a hobbyist mold and from the 70’s or 80’s and probably existed in the realm of kitsch….and she is a stereotype of a China girl with her bob haircut and bands, rice picker hat, heavy shoulder yoke across back, dragon on her qipao, and she is barefoot….she rests on top of trophy case filled with broken shards of willow ware plates from Germany, England, Japan, and America.   Willow ware is the most appropriated blue and white pattern all the world that has no known origin, and she rests atop this contained rumble and keeps on working.