Manitoba Craft Council Exhibition Gallery
August 18, 2005 to September 17, 2005

Grace Nickel: Artist’s Statement

This three-person exhibition marks the culmination of my recent associations with two exceptional emerging women artists, Candice Ring from Winnipeg and Mei-Yueh Hsu from Taiwan. I have been mentoring Candice through the MAWA (Mentoring Artists for Women’s Art) Foundation Mentoring Program for the past year and Mei-Yueh, a graduate student at Tainan University in Taiwan, has been working with me in my studio for the past four months. These experiences have been both enjoyable and inspiring for me and I feel fortunate to have worked so closely with these two very talented young artists. I am pleased to have this opportunity to show with them.

The title of our exhibition, Branching Out, refers on the one hand to the concept of mentoring as a means to disseminate and pass on knowledge via a network or branching system that transports information and experience from one source to another. On the other hand, it sums up the time of intensive production the three of us have experienced recently which has led to a significant branching out in our work, as we all explored new concepts, forms, and techniques.

For me, this showing represents the first stage in the new body of work I am developing inspired by my recent experiences in Taiwan. My return to functional work is inspired by the old tradition that is still popular in Taiwan and China today of imitating natural materials in clay, for example, the Yixing teapots that mimic bamboo and wood surfaces. My challenge is to relate this traditional Asian practice to my own experience, making it relevant to my western point of view.

My new functional pieces have grown naturally out of the sculptural work I have been investigating recently, particularly the large lantern I created in Taiwan when I was invited to participate in a ceramic residency at Tainan University in the fall of 2003. The international residency was sponsored by the Yingge Ceramic Museum in Taiwan, where my lantern is now housed in its permanent collection. I returned to Taiwan in 2004 when I had my work selected for the First Taiwan Ceramic Biennale, also hosted by the Yingge Ceramic Museum. This second trip to Taiwan further reinforced my love of the country with its lush landscape, the odd architectural mix, the beautiful ceramics and the wonderful people.

I am grateful for the support of the Manitoba Arts Council and the Winnipeg Arts Council for their assistance, as well as the Manitoba Crafts Council for offering its space to us, making ours the first show in the beautiful new exhibition gallery.

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