REVIEW: IMMORTAL OF PLAY

By Debra Sloan

The Immortal of Play exhibition, featuring Amy Chang and Wei Cheng, at gallery Canton-Sardine – in the heart of China Town, Vancouver, opened Sept. 27. This is not the first time that Amy (Li- chuan) Chang and Wei Cheng have collaborated on an exhibition. In December 2018, Wei presented a performance at the Chinese Cultural Centre, supported by the music of Selena Yu, and Amy created an installation of her ‘organic’ objects. It was a well-attended, adventurous and explorative exhibition, as is theImmortal of Play exhibit.The Canton-Sardine is a good-sized gallery with a high ceiling, in the basement of the Sun Wah building on the 200 block of E. Keefer. Steven Dragonn, who curated this exhibit, founded the gallery in July 2018. It is a Vancouver based artist-run centre, focussed on contemporary art, open to publishing, performances and residencies, as well as exhibitions.Once again both artists have pushed boundaries. Amy constructs enticing, precise, irreverent assemblages that suggest inert machinery growing out of organic forms. Quoting from Dragonn’s gallery statement – “Amy Chang’s work takes inspiration from Steampunk, a genre of the 1980s/90s North American subculture … three levels of imitation find peculiar connections between the practical and the useless….”. The humour, inherent in the work, is offset by the rigour of Chang’s manufacture and her attention to detail.

Wei Cheng spoke of finding intriguing litter on her journeys to and from her studio. Layered within her spontaneous interplay with the material, and the firing process, she integrates these found objects in many of the pieces with an unusual restraint. Wei Cheng also spoke of using her intuition, as opposed to analyzing her interactions. A fraught and brave process. Dragonn wrote, “Cheng attempts to break apart from the shackles of ceramic’s inherent qualities….”

Wei’s process is hazardous and exposing, and Amy’s process is demanding and exacting. It would be hard to find two artists operating with such different methodologies, but whose work mysteriously sits sympathetically in the same space.Amy and Wei have also been exploring gallery options in the Lower Mainland, and opening up opportunities for other ceramic artists. See this exhibition and discover this intriguing gallery. The show runs till November 27 – it may be advisable to phone ahead. Enjoy a lunch or dim sum, while in China Town !!

About Debra Sloan
Self-taught from 1973-79, Debra Sloan attended VSA – 1979-1982, and ECUAD – BFA – 2004. She has sat on all the provincial craft Boards, co-founded an archival website for the PGBC, supported by The BC History Digitization Project, and is collecting BC ceramics marks. She has adjudicated and taught extensively, including 21 years at the Shadbolt Arts Centre, and is one of the founders of WCCSA.Debra’s work has been represented in international exhibitions and magazines, and in 6 LARK 500 [NY] books. She recently published an article about contemporary ceramics of BC. Debra received a BC Arts Council Visual Arts Award, and a Circle Craft Co-op Scholarship for residencies at the International Ceramic Studio, Hungary. In 2014 Debra was artist-in-residence, at the Leach Pottery, St Ives, supported by FUSION, Ontario. She is represented in the Studio Ceramics Canada Website. In 2015 Debra attended a six week residency at C.R.E.T.A-Rome, supported by the Hilda Gerson Award, and was the Honouree for the 2015 Craft and Design Award from the Mayor’s Arts Awards [Vancouver].

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