Residency as a way to engage with crafts
The Nantou-based National Taiwan Craft Research and Development Institute (NTCRI) is holding a special showcase from May 2 through Oct. 18 to share the on-site progress of three international artists serving residency at the nation's premier crafts institute. The aim is to document the continuous evolution of how artists create their works.
The word "transformation" from the exhibition title "The Art of Transformation" denotes both a change in perspective and an on-going movement. As people say, the innovations of today will become the traditions of tomorrow. Such a journey involves a twist and fusion of the past, present, and future. So why do artists choose to serve residency? What motivates them to depart from daily routine?
In response, artists often say that this is to experience the process of familiarizing one's self with the unfamiliar, to stake out their own personalized transformations. At a new location, artists self-adjust, learn, and give feedback in a truly extraordinary experience that values the process of creating art over the end results.
Prehistoric ingenuity gave birth to the modern trajectory of crafts. In the past, these objects served at religious functions, provided entertainment for the noble and royal, and satisfied the needs of those from humble origins, all with specific purposes and utilities. Through the process of transformation, contemporary craftsmanship has come to emphasize values beyond materials and techniques, such as caring for humankind and the environment, and addressing the social issues of our times.
Sociologist Richard Sennett once said, "Every good craftsman conducts a dialogue between concrete practices and thinking; this dialogue evolves into sustaining habits, and these habits establish a rhythm between problem solving and problem finding." By continuing these practices, artists can find, once again, the meaning and optimal pace of life.
On the other hand, will modern viewers recognize the connection between their urban lives and timeless crafts? Anthropologist Jacques Maquet believed that when talking about aesthetic experiences, the reality of life should be the focus, rather than a practitioner's interpretation of art.
Life, as it is, reflects common human experiences. Whether viewers understand a piece of artwork depends on their personal stories, which continue to influence their future. Among different cultures, there must exist certain similarities, and as such comparisons are possible, and realities constructed by forebears can be expanded and extended. This is a process of continuous improvement.
When resident artists create, they repeatedly go through the cycle of construction, practice, reflection, adjustment, and reconstruction, just as craftspeople do at work. Besides testing different mediums, upgrading techniques, and refining ideas, artists are also deepening their understanding and respect for different locales and cultures. Thus, they can help bring to light the different connections between people and their surroundings, as well as help redefine those relationships.
"The Art of Transformation" will be offered in four sections — "Local Connections," "Self Reflections," "Derived Dialogues," and "Reinterpretations." In addition to featuring the three international artists who are currently serving NTCRI's Caotun residency, the exhibition will also spotlight works by 19 Taiwanese artists to provide a more structured look into the world of artists-in-residence while calling attention to the language of contemporary crafts.
‘The Art of Transformation’
Date: May 2 – Oct. 18, 2020
Venue: Taiwan Craft Culture Park (Craft Exhibition Hall)
Address: No. 573 Zhongzheng Rd., Caotun Township, Nantou Country, Taiwan (ROC)
Hours: 9am – 5pm (Closed on Mondays)