Updated Summer 2022

My work plays with clay’s responsiveness: its ability to be built and to break, to respond to gravity and succumb to heat. Objects are processed through different material lenses. Forms are built by stacking material like bricks, like layers of sediment; structures are piled and flipped upside down in the kiln; the tools of the making process become the artifact, paving the foundation for more work to come.

Making ceramics is painful: the tedious ennui of the wait; the expense of time for just one pot to be fired; most importantly, the fragility and peril inherent in the material — a material that blows up, splatters, and collapses. Kiln-loads full of shattering and crazing; exploded shards and bits stuck to other pieces all of which can lead to heartbreak and tears.

Clay allows us to have the opportunity to fail. It is precisely this pain, this confusion that disrupts the understanding of ceramics as a practice of good or bad, right or wrong, profit or waste. Contrary to this dichotomous thinking, I have found that the residues of failure can be the central axis of the work—a catalyst for learning, reflection, and exploration. By paying attention to the shards, the leftovers, the underlying structures, the process of making becomes fluid and open for revision. The painful failure becomes charged with excitement and serendipitous new meaning. Ceramics is a site of discovery.

My ceramic process also acts as a metaphor for and a reminder of my unsteady position as a young immigrant. I find my American experience situated in a nowhere’s land, a place lost somewhere in between radically different cultural realities, in which failure and anxiety often seem imminent. For me, being an immigrant is a process of unlearning, my new identity in flux, even tottering. Within my work, the ceramics process becomes a vehicle of growth — to rearticulate my new identity, to explore this space of being “in between,” and to embrace its potential riches.

The process of clay is a process of migration, where every step is a unique way of moving forward, and where to be lost is never to be wrong, but simply more.

*Do not trust artist statements.
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  1. Ruins
  2. Shards & Failures
  3. The Vanishing Mediator
  4. Love
  5. Porcelain
  6. ...
©Ryze Xu
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