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Shao's ceramic exhibit: Wall Street on parade

By Stephanie Merritt | Lead Design
On April 11, 2012

"The angels face the opposing way of the greedy, supplying a glimpse of the usually invisible hope."

Beginning the spring term off on the ceramic foot, Wednesday, April 4, 2012 at 4:30 p.m. was the opening reception for Ting-Ju Shao's "Age of Greed, Against the Light" show in the Dan and Gail Gallery of Art. Western often is able to host artists, such as Shao, specifically due to the Dan and Gail Gallery endowment each year.

Commenting on the gratitude she has for this endowment, professor of ceramics Mary Harden states, "I am thrilled to have [Shao] here for the benefit of the students." Harden mentions that this piece does not only display to students the structurally sound quality of a ceramic work, but also the conceptually beautiful side Shao's work embodies.

Alfred Maurice, who gave his collection of art to Western just last year, states that "these truly are unusual pieces. The photographs do not do them justice." Maurice is referencing the gallery card, where a single clay character is pulling a large burlap sack with a winged angel standing on the back of this character. When stepping into the gallery, you are actually confronted with a quantity of these same figures in a bird v-formation. The feeling from this experience is far more than the picture of a section can tell.

Friends of Maurice who won the American green card lottery for their skills in art, husband and wife Ahmad and Sahar Rafiei, also attended the event. Sahar Rafiei pondered and states, "The figures are so hunched and burdened down on the sides while the leading figure seems to have a charge to continue its forward movement. I feel there is some bad holy power or some obligation that leads these figures on."

As the opening statement from Shao herself says, greed is that dark divine power Rafiei felt. Shao goes on to state that her main ideas stem from the Wall Street 99 percent movement that has been an uprising in many of the leading cities in the United States.

The hunched figures, she explains, are the greedy one percent, while that intangible hope is finally made a little visible through these small glossy blue figures she calls angels. "The angels are an important element in my work," Shao points out.  "They represent the age of hope."

Marcus Bellon, a B.F.A. student at Western with a focus area in ceramics, also comments on his interest in Shao's work at the opening. "It is really interesting how through the figures embodying curiosity, it has raised the question of hoarding possessions." After hearing that Shao is following the occupy movement, Bellon states that he also is breaking off a bit of Wall Street for himself in his works.

Kasey Orr, secretary of Art Club and senior at Western, pointed out she enjoyed the contrast of the flat texture applied to the large figures in comparison to the beautiful gloss of the small figures.

Afterward, Shao demonstrated the figure process during her workshop. All gallery events are always open to the public.

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