Making sculpture and leading workshops in Bali: Cultural exchange through art process.
The exchange that occurs between myself and a new (to me) environment, people, culture, and technical challenges ALWAYS deepens my conviction that beneath all the beautiful and perplexing variety we see in life is a radical unity binding everything together.
WHO IS EVA CHAMPAGNE?
I am an artist living in on the banks of the Bitterroot river, just outside the city limits of Missoula, Montana. I create enigmatic sculptures that exist in the fluid margins between the categories of animal, vegetable, or mineral. My work is important because it encourages reflection upon the natural world and what it has to teach us about balance, unity, reciprocity, delight and awe. In addition to being a maker, I teach whenever I get the chance: all kinds of ceramics topics, painting, drawing and art appreciation. The more I explore the world and interpret it through my work, the more enthusiastic, understanding and effective a teacher and mentor I am to my students.
WHAT WILL I ACCOMPLISH AT GAYA CERAMIC ART CENTER?
I have THREE main objectives for this project:
Successfully connect with the creative energy of the arts community in Ubud and facilitate two Thematic Immersion Workshops.
Absorb all I can of the environment and cultural milieu and conscientiously record my work's progress, sharing it with you, my backers, through regular communication, images and incentives.
Complete this dream residency with a strong, ambitious closing exhibition for the public.
HOW CAN YOU HELP, AND WHY KICKSTARTER?
Going to Bali to pursue learning, teaching and sculpture, while priceless for my work, is expensive, and this project is beyond my means. But I'm determined to make it happen, and with YOUR generous contribution we can do it together! The minimum total cost of this project is $6,000. With incentives from $10 to $4,000 there is a wonderful prize for every level of investment!
Kickstarter is a secure site for artists and investors--not donors--to find each other and make creative projects happen. It's not charity; I offer valuable, one-of-a-kind incentives made by myself in exchange for your support. This project has been reviewed and approved by Kickstarter, and no funds or incentives will change hands unless the project is FULLY FUNDED. With Kickstarter, if I do not meet my funding goal of $6,000, the project receives nothing! Yikes!
I am enthralled by the complexity, vibrancy and fantastical color and symbolic imagery of the art traditions of Bali in particular. As an artistically-inclined girl growing up in Hong Kong, the arts traditions of Asia, especially China, Korea, India and Southeast Asia were a huge influence on my development. Now, at last, I have the chance to spend two months working at the studios of Gaya Ceramic Art Center in Ubud, Bali. With your help, a lifelong dream can come true for me!
Balinese art and culture are well known for variety, lushness and liveliness of expression. There are many layers of motif and meaning, and these can be different from one village to the next. Social structures are exquisitely complex. The dominant religion is Hinduism, but of course, it is a very idiosyncratic form, at times difficult to recognize as a relation to traditional Hinduism. Bali has experienced a volatile history as well as a romantic reputation worldwide as a Shangri-La, with people visiting from around the globe to experience what early anthropologist Margaret Mead referred to as "intricate and formal delights." Its tropical island setting includes tangled jungles and arid zones, terraced rice paddies and extensive irrigation canals, coral reefs, volcanoes, monsoons. There will be no shortage of natural or cultural influences.
WHY TRAVEL SO FAR TO MAKE ART?
It's about so much more than just making objects! Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote:
Every chemical substance, every plant, every animal in its growth teaches the Unity of Cause, the variety of appearance.
By taking my studio practice to far-flung places, I am able to directly encounter evidence of the veracity of the above statement, discover new ways to embed this conviction into my work and share it with new audiences. Understanding and adaptation are the name of the game. This is my lifelong inspiration for making work. I seek out experiences that will take me out of what I perceive to be my comfort zone on several levels: technical, cultural and artistic.
I do this because with each new situation, I grow and find more proof that commonality outweighs differences on every level, and this is what makes me tick! I delight in discovering the uniqueness of a place, and then get really excited when I'm able to connect the idiosyncrasies to a deeper shared reality. Novelty becomes tempered by familiarity. Contradictions produce harmony. Barriers dissolve.
MAKE THE MAGIC HAPPEN:
Bali, which provided so much inspiration during my childhood and beyond, has offered me this opportunity of a lifetime:
Two months (October-November 2013) to make work in the studio and fire the wood kiln at Gaya Ceramic Art Center, two workshops to teach, and an exhibit at the end to share with the Gaya and Ubud communities what has been made. It's ideal!
The only problem is, it is not a paid residency. I am responsible for getting myself there, housing and feeding myself, and the shipment of any work I hope to share with future audiences. The expense is beyond my resources.
I need YOUR help to make this dream a reality. After thorough research, I estimate the minimum cost of this venture to be $6,000. This amount will cover just the very basics.
I have developed an exciting, varied list of incentives to encourage you to participate in this project. Everything is made by my hands, for you. In addition, I would like to invite you to come along, virtually. Have you ever wondered what goes on in an artist's studio? How about one in Bali? How do I build my sculptures, what is the creative process like? What's it like to fire a kiln? You are invited to share my experiences through images, video, and candid, thoughtful writing from me to you, my backers. I hope this comes close to expressing how grateful I am for your support!
Art making and story telling are amazing vehicles for meaningful exchangebetween an instructor and the participants of a workshop. I don't see these workshops as merely showing people some techniques, or talking just about ceramics but as a chance to get to know people and learn their unique stories as well. How do they relate to art making, what are the themes that inspire them?
The Balinese have a phrase, desa, kala, patra, or "place, time, situation." It is a saying that "suggests the need for contextualization, the necessity of trying to understand how the meaning of events or objects are unique to specific circumstances and can differ by location and over time." (Bali: Art, Ritual, Performance, edited by Natasha Reichle) There are many unique meanings behind each person's journey, and once the context is understood, so is the shared aspect of the story. We learn from each other and walk away with greater understanding and uplifted spirits.
The first workshop is called "Animal Vegetable Mineral." This workshop is about creating organic sculptures through the synthesis and abstraction of forms and patterns found in nature. Hand building techniques of coil, slab and pinching keep the process direct and tactile, resulting in vivid, evocative sculptures that will encourage an open-ended interpretation of form. This is my approach to working in a nutshell.
The second is called "Beyond the Picture Plane." Clay and glaze are wonderful materials for exploring painterly surface color and texture as well as sculptural form. In this workshop we'll combine relief techniques and sculptural building with a variety of surface treatments and glazes, resulting in a dynamic yet integrated work of art.
THE EXHIBITION: I will build at least five free standing sculptures as well as a large, multi-part installation that fit together geometrically and are further linked organically. I'll be using stoneware clay and porcelain. That is the basic layout for the body of work. The specific formal outcome will be a result of the interplay between this pre-planned structure and my direct contact with the environment, both natural and cultural, interpretation through the materials, control of the firing process (see below), and response to the exhibition space.
I plan to fire the work in Gaya's anagama kiln. An anagama kiln is a "cave" style kiln which uses wood as fuel. It is long and narrow, sloping uphill from the firebox to the chimney. The firebox, at the bottom of the kiln, is the tallest part of the chamber, and this is where most of the wood is introduced. Along the side walls of the kiln are also openings for stoking.(Here is a fine explanation of anagama kilns from Wikipedia) Wood firing takes patience, skill, and stamina. A firing usually takes several days to complete, with round- the-clock stoking, making it a cooperative, bonding group activity. I hope that firing the anagama at Gaya will foster a sense of community and teamwork between myself and the other participants, a time to share stories around the kiln and rally behind the common goal of a successful firing.
A wood burning kiln will reach temperatures upward of 2500 degrees Farenheit (1400 Celsius). At such high, sustained heat, the ceramics inside the kiln become molten, and the wood ash flows around the kiln, riding on drafts, to rest on the objects, thereby glazing them. Every firing is different, and variables include how the kiln was stacked to allow (or not allow) free flow of the flames and ash, what kind of wood is used, how quickly or slowly the temperature rises at the start and cools at the end, how long the goal temperature is held, even the weather, and the will of the Kiln Gods. With all of these things influencing a firing's outcome, it becomes clear that the results are an explicit record of a unique process and cannot be precisely predicted. One has to have faith in the process and be flexible in one's expectations for their work. People spend their whole lives studying this art form, yet can find something wonderfully surprising (or disappointing!) about every firing.
Given what we know about wood firing, one can say there is a parallel between the process and the Balinese saying, desa, kala, patra. However, the very things that make every firing so idiosyncratic are also those that create a thread of consistency throughout: atmosphere, fire, wood, and clay.
I look forward to the challenging, exhilarating process of translating my research and experiences into sculpture, and for the first time sharing this process with you, my backers. It will require of me honesty and a willingness to be vulnerable, since it is usually such a private, intuitive experience. I welcome the challenge! I'll communicate at least once a week with images and videos. I invite you to correspond with me, ask me questions, share your thoughts! Let's have a conversation...
Another challenge I welcome is that of making all of your incentives. I love to be busy, and I love to share my work with others. It gives me a lot of pleasure to think of sending work of mine around the world to friends, new and familiar, and to know that each of you who helps me fulfill this dream receives a share of the dream as well.
Discover Bali through an artist's eyes....become inspired...THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH!
The biggest risk of all is mine if the project isn't funded!
These are some technical risks: sometimes pieces crack, even explode in the kiln, or they just break from being dropped or knocked over. A wood-firing can be tough on sculptures. I address these risks by ALWAYS making more work than I need! I also take great care in choosing a very strong clay body that can handle a lot of thermal shock. And, I cooperate with people who know the particular kiln and its "personality" and load effectively, ensuring the best results possible.
Shipping will be exciting! I intend to ship all incentives to United States-based backers from the U.S. I'll ship international backers their incentives from Bali. I have listed most incentives' arrival time as January, 2014. I believe many will arrive much sooner, but, as always with private carriers and the US Mail alike, there could be delays. Tracking will help with this potentiality.
Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.