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For the Love of Clay: Meet Dr. Hong-Ling Wee

By: Kimberly Charles

Hong-Ling Wee donated artwork

Created by Dr. Hong-Ling Wee

Dr. Hong-Ling Wee, a former research fellow at NASA, gave up her career in Geography when she touched clay for the first time and fell in love. As she was raised in a traditional Singaporean family and being the youngest of three siblings, the idea of focusing on anything else besides education was unconventional. However, Dr. Wee was so intrigued and renewed by the art of pottery that she took off three years from graduate school to pursue this craft.

Ultimately, Dr. Wee did complete her PhD in Geography, but returned to ceramics to pursue it full time. Her talent was noticed early on when she attended a workshop conducted by the well-known American ceramicist, Mark Shapiro. Dr. Ewe’s fearless desire to do something new is reflected in her art. Her bold confidence plays an important role when sculpting. In an interview, she remarked, “It takes a certain personality to make this work. You have to have a level of arrogance to create this thing that most people say it’s impossible.”

It would be only a matter of time before Dr. Wee made a name for herself in the ceramics world. In 2006, she won first prize at Ceramics Biennial at The New Hampshire Institute of Art. In the same year, Ceramics Monthly selected her as one of 24 Emerging Artists. She also won an Award of Excellence at the 3rd China-ASEAN Youth Creativity Competition at the Guangxi National Art Centre, and an Honorable Mention at the Chonju International Craft Biennale. Dr. Ewe’s work has been showcased in the United States, Australia, Japan, Korea, China, and Singapore.

Although she has achieved much acclaim through her ceramics, Dr. Wee does not forget her roots.  Her exhibition “No Place Like Home” is a show of simple ceramic objects that can be used in every room in a house. The showcase, which reflects her longing for home, re-discovers the relationship between sculptural objects and practical art.

Given her succession of awards and her passion for ceramics, Dr. Wee is just getting started.

On June 16th at 7:30 pm at the National Opera Centre, Dr. Hong-Ling Wee will be one of the featured artists at the Benefit for the 2nd Singapore Literature Festival in NYC. She has donated for the art auction a handmade porcelain platter (16’’ x 16’’ x 2’’). The work was inspired by Native American philosophy that honors the importance of the natural world and our place in it. In traditional American Indian dwellings, the main door faces east to greet the morning sun, to welcome and give thanks for each new day. Since it is rather impossible to accomplish that in urban dwelling, Dr. Wee chose to decorate the porcelain with a single brush stroke to symbolize the sun. This artwork is a way of bringing the sun into the home and a reminder to give thanks and to live everyday fully. This piece could be used as a serving platter, as a centerpiece, or a wall hanging.