I ‘ve had a fascination with all things Asian for a long time. Several years ago, I met a couple who were both well educated people, working on their second or third careers in retirement. One was a psychiatrist turned potter, who was in a course with me. His spouse, a pharmacist focusing on Ikebana flower arranging. When I visit a museum, I check to see if they have Asian bronze work. Love it. One of these days, I am going to focus on those for my ceramic work. Getting back to Terra cotta, patinas, and archeology. The Terracotta Army in China.
In France, at the “Avec Motifs Apparents”, there is a group show exhibiting the “Terracotta Daughters”. French artist Prune Nourry created them. The “Terracotta Daughters” project features over a hundred statues representing Chinese girls. This group is an army of the never-born, due to China’s one-child policy resulting in selective female infanticide.
The statues—which took a year and a half to complete—are modeled after eight orphan girls from rural areas that Nourry met. Each “Daughter” is unique—resulting from different combinations of head, torso and legs and were completed in collaboration with local Chinese Xi’an craftsmen. Nourry used the traditional techniques to create patina and manipulate terracotta in a way that renders the individual appearances and attitudes of the little girls. Nourry’s army will travel to many cities before returning to China in 2015. At that time, they will be buried until 2030. It is predicted that by 2030, 25% of Chinese men in their late 30’s will never marry due to the imbalanced sex ratio.
The eight original sculptures have been purchased by collectors, who were not allowed to choose “their” girl, further pressing the issue of selection. Each purchase supports the education of the Chinese girls who served as models. I was just mentioning to a friend the other day, how I found it interesting that several art exhibits recently seen are focused on politics or the “wrongs” of our society. Instead of artwork being created for the sake of creating well crafted, technically sound, and enjoyable to look at art. I have always considered the Terracotta Army to be very interesting and a wonderful archaeological find. I am still trying to decide, for me, are these daughters a political statement as the artist seems to intend or art for art’s sake?