This essay was written for an assignment that asked us to investigate our own personal aesthetic. We were to represent it through a visual object/ experience in which we could specifically explain aspects of our aesthetic in regards to the work, society, and ourselves.
It is extremely common for individuals to have a set of Fine China that has descended decades of their family to reach their hands. It’s the type of china that only gets used on extremely special occasions, like your high school graduation and the induction of your brother into the Hall of Fame. For me, my Great Aunt Mary –my best friend—previously owned this china set; it hasn’t reached my hands quite yet, but it’s on the tip of my fingers. She acquired this set and it quickly became her most precious belonging (this set is one of sixteen that exists in the States, my Great Uncle bought it in England and brought it back with him). When she passed away she left the set to my mother who would later on pass it along to me. This china set completely represents my personal aesthetic not only as an artist but also as an individual.
On a surface level, the blue and white painting on the porcelain form very much represents who I am as an artist. I have previously been working with blue and white painting on my porcelain ceramic sculptures and pottery pieces; recently I have been experimenting with other colors to correspond with, and sometimes replace, the blue and white to put a contemporary twist on the work. The floral pattern that is found on this piece specifically (and a lot of other blue and white painted ceramic pieces) is something that is often found decorating my own ceramic work. The nostalgic feeling that this pattern portrays is something I have always longed to represent. The simplistic pattern intrigues me by its commonality in household utilitarian items and decorations, some of which you can find in my own house (decorative paintings, storage containers, curtains, etc.).
The idea behind the passing on this Fine China is what represents my personal aesthetics. I am extremely interested in history and the passing of time. Specifically how my family and I fit into these realms. Where did our name start and how did it get to where we are today? This piece may not represent those issues directly, but they do represent an aspect of our family. There is a portion of each person who has had them in their possession at some time. Even though they have been “handled with care” there are scuffs and scratches to show this journey. The idea of handing down a precious possession to someone when you pass away is something that also intrigues me. There is a reason for Aunt Mary to hold this China set so dear to her heart, so why is it left to me? What did I mean to her that she feels it’s necessary for me to have it? These questions will always be unanswered but are also what will push me to continue researching history; their history and the history of porcelain in particular.
Fine China may not be something that is as aesthetically pleasing to everyone else who inherits or purchases it. For the most part, it is simply the dinnerware that is used on special occasions. Sometimes it doesn’t even hit the dinner table; the idea of having and displaying Fine China is oftentimes enough for individuals. It is not and never will be enough for me. The historical context that the Fine China represents on it’s own is interesting and exciting for me. Understanding that it is something that has been experimented with and examined for decades, making it significant in the history of art and culture as well—and as you know, that makes me happy.