Hands on: Prom­i­nent artist re­turns to Golden Land

The Myanmar Times - - The Pulse - LILLIAN KALISH

IN­SPIRED by an­i­mistic mythol­ogy, na­ture and the hu­man body, Soe Yu Nwe is giv­ing new mean­ing to the ce­ramic arts in Myan­mar. Af­ter spend­ing nine years in the US and com­plet­ing an MFA in ce­ram­ics at the pres­ti­gious Rhode Is­land School of De­sign, an un­der­grad­u­ate de­gree in fine arts at Al­bion Col­lege, as well as par­tic­i­pat­ing in var­i­ous artist res­i­den­cies across the coun­try, the 27-year-old is now back in Myan­mar for the fore­see­able fu­ture.

This past week­end, Soe Yu Nwe gave her first artist talk in Myan­mar at the five-month-old Myanm/art Gallery and read­ing room in down­town Yan­gon.

Her one-hour talk en­ti­tled “On House: The Self Re­con­fig­ured” was, in many ways, Soe Yu Nwe’s artis­tic in­tro­duc­tion to Myan­mar. She spoke of her tra­jec­tory as a ce­ram­ics artist from un­der­grad to the present, ex­plor­ing the con­sis­tent themes in her work which are deeply rooted in Chi­nese and Myan­mar folk­lore as well as the ques­tions of iden­tity: what it means to be fe­male, to be split be­tween two lives – one in Myan­mar and one in the US.

“Around May, I started reach­ing out to gal­leries in Yan­gon. I thought it would be a good idea to in­tro­duce my­self and my work here,” said Soe Yu Nwe who dreams of build­ing a stu­dio in Yan­gon and a body of work within her home coun­try.

Myanm/art founder Nathalie John­ston – who has worked with and rep­re­sented Myan­mar’s di­verse arts com­mu­nity for the past six years – was de­lighted when Soe Yu Nwe reached out to her over In­sta­gram.

“There are not a lot of ce­ram­i­cists or sculp­ture artists here so this is a good place to start a network,” John­ston said. “There are folks who can do busts of Aung San or fig­ures of Maha Ban­dula. But that’s it; there isn’t a ton of con­cep­tual work.”

With John­ston’s help, Soe Yu Nwe was able to trans­late her artist state­ment into Myan­mar lan­guage, which she hopes will make her art more ac­ces­si­ble and un­der­stood by a larger Myan­mar au­di­ence.

Both Soe Yu Nwe and John­ston ex­plained to The Myan­mar Times that while Myan­mar has a vi­brant his­tory of tra­di­tional ce­ramic arts, it mainly con­sists of pot­tery, or craft­work, and there aren’t many like Soe Yu Nwe, push­ing at the bor­ders of what ce­ramic work is and can be.

The Septem­ber 24 artist talk was just the be­gin­ning of what will be the start of Soe Yu Nwe’s ca­reer in South­east Asia.

In De­cem­ber she will par­tic­i­pate in Myan­mar’s fes­ti­val of per­for­mance art, Be­yond Pres­sure, or­gan­ised by in­ter­na­tion­ally recog­nised per­for­mance artist Moe Satt. In Fe­bru­ary, she will par­tic­i­pate in a three month long res­i­dency in China’s ce­ramic cap­i­tal, Jingdezhen.

Though Soe Yu Nwe will be trav­el­ling through­out the rest of this year and early next, she plans to keep Myan­mar as her home base while she es­tab­lishes a stu­dio, and col­lab­o­rates and makes con­nec­tions with other con­cep­tual ce­ramic artists across South­east Asia.

In Jan­uary, she will re­turn to Myanm/art Gallery, this time show­cas­ing the grad­u­ate-level work which she in­tro­duced this past week­end.

“I shipped some of the work that I made a few months ago. It’s on its way; hope­fully it will get here by Oc­to­ber,” said Soe Yu Nwe, a lit­tle ner­vous yet very ex­cited by her bur­geon­ing ca­reer and the chance to re­con­nect and be in­spired by the home she left long ago.

Photo: Aung Khant

Soe Yu Nwe gives a talk at the Myanm/art Gallery on Septem­ber 24.

Photo: Supplied

Soe Yu Nwe cre­ated “Body in Cap­tiv­ity”, a glazed ce­ramic art­work she fin­ished this year us­ing the sag­gar-fir­ing tech­nique.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Myanmar

© PressReader. All rights reserved.