2021 NCECA Concurrent Exhibition organized by Soe Yu Nwe
Suwanee Natewong was the first female Southeast Asian ceramic artist whose work I had encountered when I was studying in the USA. Suwanee had created a large ceramic mural in the 1980s during her residency at the Archie Bray Foundation for the Ceramics Arts, one of the most respected and internationally acclaimed ceramic organization in the USA. As a foreign student from Myanmar studying ceramics in the US, I was eager to find exemplary artists within the ceramic field of similar Southeast Asian origins since the ceramic curriculum rarely includes ceramic work from Southeast Asia. The whimsical narratives in Suwanee’s work instantly drew me in. Though lighthearted, her work is deeply genuine and thought provoking, while providing a glimpse of both the interior life of a woman and the cultural and spiritual life in Northeastern Thailand. Stories about coming-of-age, romantic and sensual awakening and questions about one’s sense of agency in relation to social, religious and political control can be interpreted throughout her works inspired by various stages of the artist's lived experience and emotional growth.
-Soe Yu Nwe
Friends is a ceramic mural created by Suwanee Natewong during her residency at the Archie Bray Foundation for the Ceramic Arts in the summer of 1988. The narratives in the mural is inspired by time spent with friends at the Bray. The mural was installed at the Shaner Studio Building during 2006 Bray International.
Photo courtesy of Louis Katz.
Puppet is an installation that explores the notion of in between of two opposite realms and one's agency within them. In the installation, one man and one woman dwell on each side of the door and are held captive to the desires of a playful spirit who might be acting in the role of a cupid. The door symbolizes both the entrance and exit point of two different worlds, and perhaps also, the merging of the two. This spirited cupid watching from above governs this space as it pulls all the strings to control this couple like marionettes.
Girl and Snake
Girl and Snake is about a shy coy young woman who is still living within the protection of a family. However she is interested in the outside world even though she thinks it is dangerous and filled with snakes and other evils. She is looking out curious, and a little mischievous.
In Amorous Dreams, the woman is dreaming. In her dream state, she is being led into thoughts of love by the same playful spirit who is in control of the couple in Puppet.