Allen ChenMendocino, California

Red Lodge Clay Center Long-Term Resident 2010-11

It is commonly held that as human beings we are more interested in ourselves than anything else. I remember rejecting this at first because I’ve always thought it was the other way around: that human beings are adventurous, creative and curious explorers. It is ironic that both statements are true, because the best way to understand ourselves is to understand the world around us. This dualistic way of thinking is how I’ve learned to understand and make art. Art to me is a conduit that connects the inner world with the outside, and I understand it through the language of dualism. My work is the result of my curiosity of the world around me-more specifically what I have discovered in the world within myself.

My work has evolved into a series of ceramic sculptures. Encased within are steel rod skeletons with yarn materials for structure. Working with steel and yarn gives me the strong yet flexible structure to form and apply the paper slay onto. Putting the work into the kiln to go through the ceramic process transforms the work. The clay is now stronger than steel, yet the steel is softer and continues to give it support. I am fascinated with this process and what it does to the relationship between the materials of clay and steel. I believe that this process relates philosophically to the idea dualism. The push-pull effects of organic vs. mechanical, nature vs. man-made is the springboard for my ideas to make art. Although I am trained in traditional pottery skills, my current work is an original and experimental contribution to ceramic art that deals with the investigation of dualism. Much like the Titanic sitting at the bottom of the ocean transforming into a quasi organic/man-made object, these ceramic pieces evoke a sense of a natural shell fusing with a synthetic idea. Or maybe it is the other way around?