In spite of the snow, spring feels close at hand on our tabletop thanks to a gorgeous new collection of Wildflower Series platters. Pressed with an array of real, picked-by-hand blooms, each platter offers a unique, natural pattern created with a meticulous, double-firing process and hand-painted glazes. These fresh-from-the-meadow ceramics are sure to top our table for seasons to come, so we caught up with their creator, Dwo Wen "Luke" Chen, to learn more about his craft and his workspace-- Three Wheel Studio in Providence, RI.
Luke told us, "I was born in a farming village in southern Taiwan, and I'm very fortunate that my family encouraged my artistic endeavors! As a child, I dreamed of becoming a bohemian painter who worked on the streets of Paris." He added that he didn't expect to become a potter with a shop in New England, but changed his mind while attending the Rhode Island School of Design. "I was discouraged from any further fantasy of becoming a painter, but my RISD education introduced me to the wonderful world of pottery. Clay is a very forgiving medium, which suits an undisciplined artist like me perfectly!"
When asked what drew him to pottery, Luke said, "I can translate almost anything in my imagination using my hands and clay. Sometimes it's a great success, sometimes there are amusing results! Since I'm not a classically-trained potter, there aren't any do's or don'ts in my creative process. I enjoy making a perfect rosette as much as throwing an oversized watering can."
To sum up his artistic inspiration, Luke shared a quote from a fellow painter and sculptor. "To paraphrase [Marcel] Duchamp, 'I have forced myself to contradict myself in order to avoid conforming to my own taste.' I truly do see beauty everywhere, and I think that's evident in the variety of my work. Recently, I've become more comfortable calling myself a studio potter. One day, I opened up my kiln and found an almost-perfect little tea bowl with just the right glaze. To a potter, that's the perfect day."