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Girl You Can

Image Gallery

Girl You Can

  • October 26, 2017 – December 9, 2017
  • Michael and Noemi Neidorff Art Gallery in the Dicke Art Building, Trinity University

Featuring Jennifer Ling Datchuk

Artist Statement

Girl You Can emerged from my residency at the Künstlerhaus Bethanien, in Berlin, Germany during the winter of 2016. Although my work has always dealt with issues of race and identity from the perspective of being biracial, my time in Germany cast a new lens. Berliners, from cabdrivers in turbans to drunk college kids, called out my Asian-ness, and not my American-ness. My American identity was not visually recognized and the paradox of being accepted as wholly Asian left me questioning my fractured identities. During these times of introspection, I find myself in a position of comfortable vulnerability of being half, mixed, and other. From there, I was able to turn my gaze towards America in a more critical way than ever before. Parts of American culture have long dominated and subsumed other cultures worldwide, but I began thinking, what does that “dominant culture” mean now?

This body of work was conceived before the November 2016 election, but created in the aftermath. As a nation, we are divided over what constitutes true American culture. Americans are being confronted with their icons, their fetishes, their appropriations. Many things in society are designed, produced, manufactured, sold, and consumed without conscious knowledge of the source. Working with porcelain, blue and white patterns, stereotypically Asian motifs, textiles, video, and photography, allowed me to consume dominant culture. Our demographic makeup and the rise of globalization are dissolving the boundaries they have always relied on. This work offers us the opportunity to see America, and white America, as the complicated, multilayer, new “other”.

About the Artist  

Jennifer Ling Datchuk is a ceramic sculptor and artist born in Warren, Ohio and raised in Brooklyn, New York. Her mother came to this country in the early 1970s from China; her father born and raised in Ohio to Russian and Irish immigrant parents. Beyond initial appearances, the layers of her parents’ past and present histories are extremely overwhelming and complicated – a history of conflict she has inherited and a perpetual source for her work. She captures this conflict by exploring the emotive power of domestic objects and rituals that fix, organize, soothe and beautify our lives. Trained in ceramics, the artist works with porcelain and other materials often associated with traditional women’s work, such as fabric, embroidery, and floral patterns, to discuss fragility, beauty, femininity, identity and personal history.

She holds an MFA in Artisanry from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and a BFA in Crafts from Kent State University. She has received grants from the Artist Foundation of San Antonio, travel grant from Artpace, and the Linda Lighton International Artist Exchange Program to research porcelain clay as a conceptual material. She was awarded a residency through the Contemporary at Blue Star to conduct her studio practice at the Künstlerhaus Bethanien in Berlin, Germany and has participated in residencies at the Pottery Workshop in Jingdezhen, China, Vermont Studio Center, and the European Ceramic Work Center in the Netherlands. A fellowship through the Black Cube Nomadic Museum in 2016 allowed her to create a large site specific installation in Gold Hill, Colorado that explored the historical fiction surrounding the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. Currently residing in San Antonio, Texas, where she is a Professor of Art at the Southwest School of Art, she maintains a studio and small design line of ceramic objects for the home. On Inauguration Day 2017, she opened the Porcelain Power Factory, a 4 year body of work that reclaims the past lives of objects to raise the social awareness of causes that we need to fight for.