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Broken Buddha’s permanent lesson to ceramic artist Lydia Thompson
UNCC professor kicks off Mint Museum series
Published Wednesday, January 15, 2020 12:40 pm
by Ashley Mahoney | The Charlotte Post

UNC Charlotte chair of art and art history department Lydia Thompson’s Post Migration Series No. 8.

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Lydia Thompson broke the Buddha, and it reminded her that nothing is permanent.

The ceramic artist and UNC Charlotte’s chair of the Department of Art and Art History kicks off the Delhom Service League’s ceramics series at the Mint Museum with a talk titled “You broke the Buddha, now what?” It takes place at the Mint Museum Randolph’s Van Every Auditorium on Jan. 22 at 6:30 p.m., and is free to attend. A wine reception will precede the talk at 6 p.m.

“It’s kind of funny how I came up with that title,” Thompson said. “I was staying at friends of a friend’s house. They were out, and we were just there for a couple of days. They are practicing Buddhists, and they had these little Buddha statues all over the house. There was a little Buddha on the shelf in the guest room we were staying in. Early in the morning, when we got up to use the restroom, we knocked it off the shelf. It shattered in all these pieces.”

While Thompson is not a practicing Buddhist, she knew the significance of what happened. It is seen as a spiritual vessel. Thompson found herself pondering what happens once the piece is broken.

“I started reading up on it, and course it is like anything that becomes an object of passion or an object that has been given meaning,” she said.

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Her research led her to consider ceramics on a deeper level, from the historical implications to contemporary connotations.

“Through our lifetime, how do we place value on a particular object?” Thompson said. “The value of the object is who owned the object before us, or what it represents in our life.”
Thompson’s talk at the museum will examine this premise, as well as how it relates to her work and life as a whole. Her conclusion? Nothing in life is permanent.

“I’m thinking about my work differently,” Thompson said. “I have always thought about it as being part of this really permanent type of object that is placed in a museum or a gallery.”
Thompson reflects on her own migration as it relates to her work becoming less permanent. A native of Columbus, Ohio, she earned her undergraduate degree from Ohio State University. From there, she went to New York College of Ceramics at Alfred University to pursue a master’s in fine arts.

She earned the Fulbright Hayes grant to research traditional architecture in Nigeria, traveled to Denmark for the VCUarts Institutional Grant for the International Ceramic Research Center artist-in-residency and spent time in Alberta, Canada for a residency at Medalta Ceramic Center in Medicine Hat. She was director at the TTU School of Art, department head at Mississippi State University, assistant dean of undergraduate studies at Virginia Commonwealth University, assistant dean of multi-cultural affairs at the School of Art Institute of Chicago and director of the Educational Opportunity Program at NYSCC at Alfred University.

Additionally, she served on the boards of the National Council of Education for Ceramics, National Council of Art Administrators and Clayworks in Charlotte.  

“I’m trying to rethink how I see how I value my work, how I value objects—how we value objects in our culture and cultures throughout the world,” Thompson said.

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What a great approach to processing through the creative mind. Sounds like this will be a great talk to kick off the series. The speaker seems to be well rounded and has some great highlights on her CV. Great find Mint!
Posted on January 15, 2020

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