MenLo is a studio and gallery focused on growing the international artist community in Jingdezhen, providing access to the city for aspiring ceramic artists, and amplifying young and emerging Chinese contemporary artists in any medium. As a studio we are committed to working in an integrated way with the city, its artisans, and its industry. As a gallery we do not have representational relationships with artists, we facilitate making, and try to find the work done in our studio homes in various galleries, museums, and other venues around China. 

Nick Vest - All Sculpture is About Gravity. September - November 2018


Artist’s Statement on the work

All Art is autobiographical. That idea has become cliched, but it is still true. The main content of the art may not be there to describe the artist, the intent of the art can of course be not to inform the audience of the artists life and undertakings, but all art is a transfer of information about its maker. Because there is no goal, no standard, no quota for what an artist’s production should look like, art making to me is decision making. You learn about a person from the decision they make and don’t make. You learn more than just their taste and proclivities, you learn about their beliefs, you learn about the things that are invisible to them. Looking closely at your own work as an artists is a way to learn about the parts of work that you haven't made active decisions about, but have rather been defined by outside forces.
Your decisions are not always yours. This too may be cliched, but true. We are largely defined by context both local and global. Humans from singular cultures and eras make consistent decisions. We defer many of our decisions to a larger collective. Humanity has a long history of facing arbitrary decisions and normalizing one choice to the extent that the alternative disappears entirely. Unearthing those decisions, and going down the forgotten path is one of my favorite actions in art. Leaving your place, in as many ways as is possible, is the best way to give yourself the ability to spot the abandoned decisions of that place. For my first three years in China I’ve largely focused back on the american context, and the american me.
After three years I am no longer the american me. This is an aspirational statement. I am still an american, but hopefully much of the normalized unconsciousness of my decision making specific to the american context has degraded under scrutiny and comparison to the different standards of similar measures of life here.

There will never be a chinese me. This is a fact. This is a fact that makes me worry about my future. I have decided that I want some bulky part of my future to take place here, but I worry that the same scrutiny that I applied to the american me to better understand the arbitrarities of that context can’t be applied to the more chinese me. I worry that, as someone who will never belong, it wont be possible to explore the realities of my new place without my actions being perceived as an attack on what is by a foreign entity.

The structure of things is most defined by the forces that act on them. In that way all sculpture is about gravity. In that way this work is about a more chinese me.

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