I was born and grew up in China. My father and mother are both highly regarded electrical engineers.

Jian Yu
Thesis paper

Introduction
I was born and grew up in China. My father and mother are both highly regarded electrical engineers. Because of the inadequate infrastructure in the early 1980s, my parents took on the mission of building reform. From south to north, west to the east, I have childhood memories of many places across China. My home was like a train station with many rails.

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The big years of the 1980’s are the earliest I remember. The Chinese economic reforms from 1978 to 2013 stimulated unprecedented growth. The economy increased by 9.5% a year. China’s economy surpassed that of Japan in 2010 becoming Asia’s largest economy, growing to become world second largest economy behind the United States. There was a significant improvement to the national strength. “Faster! Higher! Stronger!” became the subject of daily news. Learning advanced science and technology from the developed countries become the wave of the late 1990s.

I became passionate about Chinese culture and particularly Chinese ceramic art in high school. From those early days, my love for ceramic art and interest in ceramic materials and its history grew. My first interaction with ceramic objects was using ceramic dinnerware, which is popular in China. In 2009, when I was 24, with the help of my parents and friends I was able to come to the United States to study ceramic art.

I love America, her people, and her culture. Eating at McDonald’s, wearing Nike shoes, holding an iPhone, play music, learning about ceramics and advancing my experience of modern culture with Americans; and to go home at night to the American dream has been my great pleasure.

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China has a rich culture that has developed over thousands of years. However, the development of modern culture in China faces challenges brought in by this change in development. A combination of cheap labor and a can do attitude has transformed China from a mainly agricultural society to one that has become the world’s factory almost overnight. China’s economic boom has helped many Americans fulfill their American dream. Initially, I thought it was good because the economic growth also provided employment for Chinese citizens. Now I wonder if it has become too much.

After the Cultural Revolution, in the early day China manufacturing industry did not have a lot choose from, to produce essentials to people. The primary production line control by the country. Production is mainly through large-scale industrial production. After 1980, China reformed and shifted focus toward economic development. Soon people wanted things with personality; everyone wanted their own style. For twenty years, we have been learning to produce multiple things for everybody. We have a strong base in terms of factories and standardizations, but we still do not have many designers and material research. Our generation wants to make exciting, new, identifiable work, while still respecting the craft. It is an opportunity, and there was a comprehensive significant improvement to the national strength. Another issue is that many products are over-produced. People make the same things repeatedly, the work never sees the right price in the market, and it just gets cheaper and cheaper.

I thought about it for a long time for my thesis show creation, I finally decided to tell a story of my own understanding of the superhero and super power relate to the ceramics world.

I still remember when I was a child, always asked my mother to buy me toys, by then, I was eight years old. I was very interested in the Marvel Studios cartoon,to collect all the superhero became my biggest interests and hobbies. As I grew up my toy collection more and more until the whole bookshelf run out space. Spider-Man, Batman, Iron Man, whatever you can named, I had them. When I was 14-years old, I started the process of making my own superhero model. Until today, I still keep this hobby.

This piece called “The royal feast of the last supper” Inspiration comes from Artist: Leonardo da Vinci “The Last Supper” Leonardo had depicted the consternation that occurred among the Twelve Disciples when Jesus announced that one of them would betray him. “The Last Supper” is Leonardo’s visual interpretation of an event chronicled in all four of the Gospels. The evening before Christ was betrayed by one of his disciples, he gathered them together to eat, tell them he knew what was coming and washed their feet. As they ate and drank together, Christ gave the disciples explicit instructions on how to eat and drink in the future, in remembrance of him. It was the first celebration of the Eucharist, a ritual still performed.

The work done Leonardo has had received different views from different scholars. Some call it an illustrious invalid piece of work; some refer to it as the world’s saddest work of art. However, according to facts, this is one of the moving and most important piece of work ever done. Over the passing years, the painting has gone through decay making it unclear but still worth the time to view. The decay is partly due to the non-durable materials used by Leonardo. He preferred oil paint to watercolor, which would dry faster and stay longer. Another reason for the blurred images in the painting is the Second World War. During the war, a bomb landed on Santa Maria and the only wall that survived was the one bearing the painting.

Impact of Fast-Food Culture on Ceramics Tableware

As an art form, only ceramics covers the entire forty-five-century span of Chinese history. More than any other material fired clay has served the needs and satisfied the esthetic tastes of all segments of society in nearly every culture on earth. The Chinese contribution to ceramic art, however, is one of uncontested brilliance. In terms of their sheer production, technical innovation, artistic refinement, esthetic diversity and global impact, the Chinese can claim the world’s longest and foremost ceramic tradition.

The success that has taken a major step in the western world in term of technology development has led to increasing in speed of doing duties, as people tend to work on gaining time. This has made it difficult in enjoying small things in life. The culture of fast food and being exposed to fast food symbols has had an effect on how those exposed enjoy music and many beautiful art pictures and painting. The effect of enjoying and appreciating a good symbol is hampered with the exposure one gets from the fast food symbols. The fast food symbols undermine or lowers the happiness experience one can get from everyday joy. The fact that fast food can stop one from smelling roses mainly due to the strong aroma that come from the fast food could prevent an individual from being happy. Many studies and research have been done, and the results show the adverse effect the fast food have in people with just being exposed to the symbol of fast food.

Background

Due to fast-food culture, introduced in the United States in the 20th century, much of contemporary global society has become “eat-on-the-run”. The human interaction and socialization that was part of dining have lost ground as people head to fast-food chains, often alone. Dining has devolved from being a social event to “just another fast, instant relief of human physiological need.”[1] The fast-food culture has made maintaining traditional dining etiquette difficult; even pointless. American families, limited by complicated schedules and time constraints, often find themselves assembling around dinner tables only for special occasions and holiday feasts. [2]

America has exported fast-food culture to other countries. In China, the fast food culture conflicts with an ancient principle in its culinary tradition that considers slow eating as elegant and healthy. [3] Fast-food culture influences dining traditions and design of tableware. Tableware design, its nature, variety, and number of pieces vary depending on culture, religion, and cuisines among other things. [4] The nature and style of tableware evolve on generations following the evolution in culture, technology, or sometimes cross-cultural exchange. I am interested in the evolution of tableware and its relation to cultural change and changes in the larger society. I give special attention to the evolution of tableware made from ceramics. Ceramics is the process or art of creating objects from baked clay. Objects made from ceramics range from tableware, such as bowls, plates, and cups to clay sculptures, tiles, and bricks. [5]

How Evolution of Ceramics Art Coincides with Evolution in Culture

With the existence of Awards for Ceramics, the art will continue to have worldwide recognition and support in development. The awards which are issued annually will motivate the artist who are involved in ceramics to improve the use and production of ceramics materials. There are financial rewards and international recognition for the winners. The awards gives an opportunity to those who would like to start the ceramic arts to take independent research of the beat ceramic artists and get information of how to improve their professional skills in the art of Ceramics.

China has been producing ceramics for thousands of years and much of the 21st-century ceramics reflect types that were either invented or manufactured in China at a very early date. The studios that deal with ceramics has been established in most part of the country. With this, there are many galleries of ceramics collections from a different region of the country, which normally reflects the cultural, and interest of the people from the origin communities. Porcelain is, arguably, the most significant type of Chinese ceramics in terms of its global reach, imitation, and use. It has been produced in China for over 2,000 years and has been used to make eating and drinking utensils among others things. [6]

The design of tableware can have a lot of significances. The way people eat, entertain, including the tableware they use, relates to the most basic cultural conception and rituals of a society. The dining has evolved over centuries into an elaborate social activity and exchange in which rules are followed, and customs observed.[7] Europe, after discovering Chinese ceramics in the 15th and 16th centuries[8], industrialized the production of ceramic in the 1700s and began producing tableware that reflected the newly emerged social etiquette surrounding dining. The ceramic factories in Europe evolved at the time due to the emergence of new manufacturing components and the growth of the transport systems across the continent. [9] In the 18th century, favorites for Americans and Europeans included Chinese porcelains and Dutch Delft, which widely imitated the Chinese porcelains. Industrialization in the 19th century impacted “dinner culture” with new technology facilitating enhanced production of high-fired porcelain and whiter tableware. In the first half of the 20th century, new kinds of ceramic tableware were introduced. The tableware and dinnerware styles evolved from art nouveau and art deco and other modernist art movements like the Bauhaus. The culture of placing emphasis on familial dinner served through exquisite tableware, however, fizzled in the second half of the 20th century with the emergence of the fast-food culture, which replaced the ceramics tableware with disposable plastic plates and cups and the familial dinners were replaced by solitary dinners on the move.

The modern workingman and workingwoman have colluded with the growth of the fast-food culture to produce a significant change in dining culture. Increasingly, a modern family does not dine at a dinner table. Additionally, the use of traditional tableware has lessened, and the form has evolved. Disposable paper products and plastic cutlery, reflecting the spread of the fast-food culture, have replaced the ceramic tableware of yesteryears.

While the change in dining culture has contributed to the diminishing presence of ceramics items in dining tables, evolution of culture in other societal fields has seen a shift in the demand of ceramics from tableware to other areas. In my ceramics art, for instance, I create sculptures inspired by 20th and 21st-century cultures, such as the ones of heroic fictional figures shown in figure 1 below. These sculptures are inspired by the comic culture of the 20th and 21st centuries that celebrates fictional heroic figures with superior qualities to the regular human being. Growing up in China, comic-inspired toys, and fashion wear were among the popular trends for teenagers. I owned several t-shirts with images of Superman and some plastic sculptures of Superman and Batman. While I have outgrown that phase of my life where I used to look up to these fictional superheroes, I still enjoy following comic-inspired movies and series. Comics appeal to all age groups and through my form of art, I hope a new generation of teenagers can enjoy and be inspired by my ceramic superhero action figures in the same manner I was inspired by plastic sculptures of Batman and Superman back in China. I, therefore, create art associated with my favorite comics because, first, it is a challenging, and, second because I hope to inspire other aspiring young artists. However, I also hope that my work will contribute to a crossing over of comic book heroes into handcrafted art, thereby, contributing to the continued growth and development of the comic book genre and movies in modern culture.

Figure 1: Superhero Sculptures

Additionally, I draw satisfaction from this type of work because it demands creative involvement and tests my skills, this in a time when many aspects of art production have been mechanized. Prior to the industrial revolution, ceramics were always often handcrafted resulting in some sophisticated, elegant, and unique artifacts, carefully constructed by a single attentive hand, [10] Industrialization has resulted in the mechanization of many previously handcrafted processes. This has meant that, until recently, handcrafted objects diminished in value and that passing craft skills from generation to generation has been interrupted. Additionally, mechanized processes have meant that a single handcrafted object by an artisan could become a prototype or model to produce thousands of similar items, much faster and more cheaply. The artisan ceased being an actual producer and, at best, became more of a planner or designer.

Figure 2: Superman Sculpture

However, more than just style and trend, as it is symbolic too inspire my work. Each of my comic-inspired sculptures symbolizes something. For instance, on the face of it, the ceramics superwoman sculpture in figure 2 above is just another work of art that symbolizes the comic culture of the 20th century. However, I created it to symbolize, not only the comic culture of the 20th and 21st centuries, but also the fantasy or desire, by humans, for the emergence of a superior or special being that can protect the society: Superwoman is a superior being with abilities that exceed those of a regular being. The sculpture can therefore be viewed as a metaphorical representation of how the human society continually seeks or aspires for progressive change or evolution into better or more superior creations.

Extraordinary powers or abilities, exceptional skills and/or advanced equipment and technology. Superhero powers vary widely; superhuman strength, the ability to fly, enhanced senses, and the projection of energy bolts are also typical. Many forms of fiction feature characters attributed with superhuman, supernatural, or paranormal abilities, often referred to as “superpowers” (also spelled “super powers” and “super-powers”) or “powers”. This tradition is especially rich in the fictional universes of various comic book stories. This is a list of many of those powers that have been known to be used. Some of these categories overlap.

What is a superhero? What is a super villain? What are the traits that define and separate these two? What cultural contexts do we find them in? In addition, why we need them?

I write about superheroes who seem to be everywhere these days because their stories often capture essential truths about human nature. That’s why, I think, many people like superhero stories. We resonate with the themes in the stories, with the dilemmas and problems that superheroes face, and we aspire to their noble impulses and heroic acts. We identify or would like to identify with them (although sometimes I identify with the villains). Superheroes are role models for us, and they are modeled after us.

I Created a series of characters, including superheroes, political dictators, superstar, they all have the same character in the play.

Comparison between my work and Leonardo da Vinci “The Last Supper.”

Personally, I think both works are a good piece of art. However, the level of production and expertise differs a lot. Leonardo was a very profession artist and experience. The drawing he did of the “The Last Supper” took him around 4years to complete. This means there was a lot of determination and commitment put on it. Though I was also determined and motivated, the time I took in making my superhero sculpture was not that much. Am still in the process of improving my skills further and make better ceramics.

The materials used in making the items are different. “The Last Supper” was a painting made on the wall while my piece of work was a sculpture. This makes it an object to Leonardo’s painting.

The theme presented or portrayed by the two piece of work are two different things. My object or ceramic was a superhero/Idol related. “The Last Supper” was a religious painting of Jesus with his twelve Disciples just before he was betrayed.

References
Civitello, L. (2008). Cuisine and culture: A history of food and people. Hoboken, N.J: John Wiley.
King, R. (2013). Leonardo and the Last supper.
Ladwein, M. (2006). Leonardo da Vinci, the Last Supper: A cosmic drama and an act of redemption. Forest Row [UK: Temple Lodge.
Peabody Essex Museum., Sargent, W. R., & Kerr, R. (2012). Treasures of Chinese export ceramics from the Peabody Essex Museum. Salem, Mass: Peabody Essex Museum.
Pierson, S. (2013). From object to concept: Global consumption and the transformation of Ming porcelain.
Roberts, B. W., & Vander, L. M. (2011). Investigating archaeological cultures: Material culture, variability, and transmission. New York: Springer.
Rujivacharakul, V. (2011). Collecting China: The world, China, and a history of collecting. Newark [Del.: University of Delaware Press.
Staubach, S. (2013). Clay: The History and Evolution of Humankind’s Relationship with Earth’s Most Primal Element. UPNE.
Widdowson, F., & Howard, A. (2008). Disrobing the aboriginal industry: The deception behind indigenous cultural preservation. Montreal [Que.: McGill-Queen’s University Press.

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