“Truth Before Flowers,” Jennifer Ling Datchuk
Women & Their Work, Through July 25
by Holly Cowart
Identity is a tangled web. Countless factors play a role in determining how we label ourselves, and even then it can be vastly different from how others perceive us. One artist attempting to unravel these external influences is ceramicist Jennifer Ling Datchuk.
Datchuk was born in Ohio to a father whose parents immigrated from Russia and a Chinese immigrant mother, and her work often dissects her own complex relationship with labels. Growing up, she found it extremely difficult to fit in, simultaneously a part of and apart from her intersecting identities. She became accustomed to people asking her, “What are you?” finding they were rarely content with her answer.
The sculptor, now based in San Antonio, explores this personal dichotomy in her latest exhibition, “Truth Before Flowers,” on display at Women & Their Work through July 25. Combining porcelain, hair and typical Chinese patterning, she breaks down how physical appearance, generalized stereotypes and cultural routines are created in an attempt to categorize both the self and others. On top of genealogy, the materials further tackle the expectations placed throughout history on women to fit into an exclusionary, unattainable idea of perfection. As Datchuk’s compositions pull at the thread of what is socially accepted, she shines a light on the beautiful multitudes we all contain within us, celebrating the undefined.