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The Artful Traveler: Caroline Cheng: SOFA’S STAR

White_on_white_hires  -Bobbie Leigh

Some 3,200 people jammed the aisles of Navy Pier in Chicago for the 14th Annual International Sculpture & Functional Art (SOFA) exposition that opened in Chicago, November 1. More than 100 dealers showcased their artists’ work and if one theme or trend emerged, it’s that the object is not as important as the concept. The most compelling works were based on theoretical ideas, none more compelling than Caroline Cheng’s butterfly sculpture.

Born in Cambridge, UK, in 1963, Cheng is an artist, curator, educator, and leader in contemporary ceramics. Now based in Shanghai, she is involved in giving new life to the ancient imperial kilns in Jingdezhen where she is creating a center for contemporary ceramics. The piece that captivated most visitors at Beatrice Chang’s Dai Ichi Arts installation in Chicago was called " Prosperity." It consisted of more than 10,000 thumbnail-size, handmade white porcelain butterflies, no two alike, stitched by hand to a backing that resembles the fu , a classic women’s dress, somewhat like a kimono. Explaining her piece, the artist wrote: "China is filled with people with all the differences and diversity packed densely together. From a distance, China appears to be just one big country. But living in China, one experiences the wide array of changes, stimuli, and distraction." At first glance, Cheng’s butterflies look alike, but that perception changes radically after closer examination. Her work reflects these different perspectives, first impression and then deeper observation which anyone who has visited China recently will understand. Previously, Cheng was best known for her pop-art style Mod Mao series, a witty take on China’s leaders, but her handmade butterfly sculptures cross many disciplines. They are at once powerfully simple yet infinitely poetic.

For more information, contact Dai Ichi Arts, 249 East 48th Street, NY

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