Keiko Fukuzawa's new work

With the onslaught of economic and labor news coming from China, Made in China: New Ceramic Works by Keiko Fukazawa is a timely exhibit currently running at the Craft and Folk Art Museum in Los Angeles, CA through May 8, 2016. Japanese- born and LA-based ceramic artist Fukazawa examines through her various ceramic works how globalism and Western consumerism have played a part in shifting Chinese lifestyles. 

In the past three years, Fukazawa visited Jingdezhen studying its renowned porcelain production process. During her time there, Fukazawa observed the shifts in Chinese lifestyles as more and more Western-style consumer habits were adopted.

The inspiration behind the work started when Fukazawa read an article about child labor conditions in Chinese factories, resulting in ceramic Beanie Babies sculptures shaped as iconic scholars rock sculptures that reflected the rise of Chinese capitalism as a response to American consumer demand.

According to the exhibit’s press materials, Fukazawa collaborated with local artisans to create several series’ representing various processes and materials from Jingdezhen, including porcelain flower-making and traditional landscape painting. A series of porcelain busts representing mass-produced statues of Chairman Mao show him sporting a beard of delicate porcelain flowers— a sly reference to his Hundred Flowers Campaign, that encouraged the public to criticize the government which retaliated with severe consequences.

Spoons and tea flasks and embellished with decals of Chairman Mao during various phases of his life. These objects are glazed in a gradient ranging from red to gold, symbolizing China’s journey through communism to state capitalism. A series of large porcelain boxes show classic Chinese landscape paintings with multinational corporate logos dotting the landscape.

Spout Monsters, comprising of rejects  from Jingdezhen’s ceramic factories make their way into the exhibit as mutant teapots with multiple limb-like spouts. The series Chinese Still Life shows groupings of cast plastic bottles glazed in a range of glazes and other finishes unique to Jingdezh. Fukazawa observe how these  bottles were discarded and then reused as containers by glaze makers.

“Keiko has been an active, long-time presence in the Los Angeles arts community, and we are very excited to present her work to a larger audience,” says CAFAM Exhibitions Curator Holly Jerger. “The vast technical resources she encountered in Jingdezhen have allowed Keiko to make an important transition in her artistic practice and focus on conceptual issues she wanted to explore. This body of work is also a potent example of contemporary craft’s relevance to world events, both historically and today.”

Fukazawa currently lives and works in Pasadena, California. She studied at Musashino Art University in Tokyo and Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles, where she also taught ceramics for four years. She is currently assistant profesᆳsor and head of the ceramic department at Pasadena City College. Her work is in the permanent collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), Los Angeles, California; the National Museum of History, Taipei, Taiwan; and Racine Art Museum, Racine, Wisconsin. Fukazawa is the recipient of a 2016 COLA Individual Artist Fellowship from the Department of Cultural Affairs, City of Los Angeles.

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