I really have a lot of respect for people, who leave their country to study far away from home. It must be very hard in the beginning. When Jing Yang came from China to Germany to study in the Munich Jewellery Class, she must have suffered from a real cultural shock. Without either German nor much English to communicate, I remember her struggling to find her way with her jewellery work and with life in Germany in general. But Jing is made of much sturdier stuff than her petite figure would suggest. During this time, I was teaching German classes to classmates and when Jing joined us, she could already speak German pretty well, which was astonishing seeing that she’d never visited any German classes before. She had been teaching herself.
Jing also developed her language as a contemporary jewellery artist quite fast. After some teething problems, (which we’d all been confronted with) she created a stunning series of necklaces titled Ich bin keine Vase (“I am not a vase”), which are composed of several loose stringed brass parts. If you staple the geometrical elements on top of each other, you will get a classical shape of a vase. This work knocked my socks off when I first saw it in Jing´s solo show during the Munich Jewellery Week 2015.
Jing explained to me during our interview in her diploma show: “Art Jewellery or hollowware belongs to the applied arts, the pieces normally ought to have a function. I used the shape of a vase, but took away its original functioning. The vase became something new. It became jewellery. The other meaning comes from China: If you say in China that a woman or a man is like a vase, it means that he or she is pretty from the outside, but empty from the inside, just like a hollow decorative item. So, by wearing one of these necklaces, the wearer declares that he/she has something to say.”
In her diploma show, Jing had her own room to exhibit necklaces on the walls and a huge “version” of her divided vase shapes made of clay, which were presented in the center of the room.
Carina: How do you make these jewellery pieces? Do you create the entire vase shape at first and then cut it apart?
Jing: No, they are made differently. First, I draw shapes of vases I find beautiful. Many people think I am using traditional Chinese vase shapes, but it is really my own shapes that I like. Then I cut the drawing apart into segments and calculate the individual parts mathematically to build them on paper first. Often, I then have to adapt the shape if I cannot solve the calculations. The segments of the vase are then built separately in brass.
Carina: So actually, the vase only exists in your mind and on the paper, but never in the proper material…
Jing: Yes. This is important for me, there never was an actual vase. There is the image of a vase, when you stack the segments on top of each other. But when you wear it, the vase shape falls apart into new ever-changing forms. You cannot wear the vase around your neck as a jewellery piece.
Carina: So, tell me a bit about the sculpture you made from clay?
Jing: There is certainly a strong connection to the jewellery series, because you could again build a vase from these parts. If you stapled all the pieces on top of each other, you would get a 1.90 m high sculpture, so approximately man high. For me, there is also a connection to the body, because the process of making these clay pieces was physically hard work. I needed a lot of help. The clay pieces are very heavy, and I cannot lift them by myself. I think all the Chinese students from the Academy were helping me with this project and the caretaker of the Academy knows me much better now than he would like to I think.
Carina: Did you ever build the vase from these parts?
Jing: Yes, I did. But I see the whole piece more like an invitation to build different shapes from it. Like with the jewellery, there is no definite shape for me.
Carina: And how did you make the segments for this piece?
Jing: For the jewellery, I calculated the flat projections, which were then folded into a three-dimensional geometrical shape. For the clay segments, I had to make the calculations already for 3- D pieces. It was quite complicated.
Carina: Do you enjoy mathematics?
Jing: Yes, a lot. I can really focus when I am calculating mathematical formulas. Everybody in the studio already knows that it is better not to disturb me, when I am doing mathematics.
Carina: So, congratulations on finishing your studies! What are your plans for the future now?
Jing: I want to continue working in Munich at least for a few more years now, but I think earlier or later, I want to go back to China.
Carina: I know that you were doing performance and video art before your studies in Munich. Now you made your first sculpture. Will you continue working in different media?
Jing: Yes, I have been focusing on making art jewellery now for several years, but in the future, I want to be open to work in other media too. I want to work in the media which best fits the ideas I’d like to implement.
Carina: Thank you, Jing.
Jing Yang (born 1987 in Hunan, China) received her BA of Fine Arts from the Xiamen University, China, in 2010. She then studied at the Academy of Fine Arts Munich in the jewellery class from 2010-2017 under Prof. Otto Künzli and Prof. Karen Pontoppidan.
1 Jing Yang: Invitation card for diploma show Keine Vase, Photo: Jing Yang
2 Jing Yang: Untitled, Necklace; Brass, string; Photo: Mirei Takeuchi
3 Jing Yang: Untitled, Necklace; Brass, string; Photo: Mirei Takeuchi
4 Jing Yang: Diploma show Keine Vase, Munich, 2017; Photo: Carina Shoshtary
5 Jing Yang: Untitled, Necklace; Brass, string; Photo: Mirei Takeuchi
6/7/8 Jing Yang: Diploma show Keine Vase, Munich, 2017; Photo: Carina Shoshtary
9 Jing Yang: Untitled, Necklace; Brass, string; Photo: Mirei Takeuchi