Professor Keith Ekstam returned this semester from a stay in Taiwan, where he served as Resident Artist in the Graduate Institute of Applied Art at Tainan National University of the Arts (TNNUA) as part of a sabbatical project. Ekstam presented a solo exhibition of his ceramic sculptures, entitled Trace Elements, at the school’s North Gallery. In addition, he engaged in workshop demonstrations and lectures on his creative work.
Craig Hartenberger, a senior studying ceramics, joined Ekstam in Taiwan in January and will return to the United States in mid-June. He describes his work in Taiwan as “a mix of old and new,” including his traditional wheel-thrown, wood-fired pottery and a recent focus on more sculptural objects. Hartenberger has also lectured about his work, influences, and what interests him as an American artist abroad.
“People have been excited to see the work that I have been making largely because the manner in which I handle the material is much different that the way they are accustomed to,” Hartenberger says. “In Eastern culture, things are often handled in a much more indirect way. As a Westerner, I tend to be more direct, more bold, and more aggressive with the way that I handle clay.”
Hartenberger adds that his time in Taiwan has been full of great experiences.
“Every day is truly an adventure and the people here have been so overwhelmingly welcoming and kind,” Hartenberger explains. “Even something as simple as going grocery shopping or getting lunch can be the most exciting adventure I have had. I am surrounded by new sights, flavors, smells, and ways of doing things—all the while surrounded by people who are so giving and excited to share their beautiful country with me.”
Artist Residency in Taiwan
by Keith Ekstam, professor of art and design
As part of my sabbatical project proposal, I spent the months of January through March, 2012, serving as Resident Artist in the Graduate Institute of Applied Art at Tainan National University of the Arts (TNNUA) in Taiwan. This was a fabulous opportunity to engage in several professional activities, as well as experience more closely the unique Taiwanese culture. The opportunity to travel and spend several months in Taiwan provided me the longest residency that I have been involved in. The length of the stay afforded me the chance to dig more deeply into the culture and to glean from that experience visual and conceptual information to include in my creative work.
This led to my presenting a solo exhibition of ceramic sculpture at the school’s North Gallery titled Trace Elements, in which I exhibited twenty-four forms which were completed during my stay at the school. In addition to a solo exhibition, I was able to complete other professionally related activities, including workshop demonstrations in the TNNUA undergraduate studios, and lectures on my creative work at TNNUA, at National Taiwan University of the Arts in Bonqiao City and at the Asia-Pacific Institute of Creative Arts in Toufen City.
In a related matter, MSU ceramics student Craig Hartenberger is spending nearly six months in Taiwan as part of the ongoing exchange between the ceramics departments of our two universities. Craig worked as a studio assistant for me as part of a Faculty Research Grant. This assistance was extremely helpful as I worked toward my goal of presenting a solo exhibition. Since Craig will be in Taiwan until mid-June, 2012, he continues to make his creative work in the TNNUA studios and he will exhibit his work in two separate exhibitions, at the Koji Ceramics Museum in Chia-Yi City and at the Jan Shiuan Art Center Gallery in Kaohsiung City. Craig also delivered lectures on his creative work and working processes at TNNUA, at National Taiwan University of the Arts, and at the Asia-Pacific Institute of Creative Arts. Needless to say, Craig has had many new and interesting cultural experiences, tasting exotic foods and working alongside renowned ceramic artists during his time in Taiwan.