Caroline Cheng is a world-renowned ceramist, curator, and educator. Born in Cambridge in the United Kingdom, Cheng received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from Michigan State University and her Master of Fine Arts from the Academy of Art College in San Francisco before moving to Hong Kong in 1991 to manage The Pottery Workshop, a center for teaching and promoting ceramics. Cheng became Director of The Pottery Workshop in 1997 and has since founded several branches of the Workshop in cities throughout China.
Cheng’s ceramic sculptures reflect her Chinese heritage and culture, and she is best known for her Prosperity series, a group of Chinese-style dresses covered with thousands of miniature hand-formed porcelain butterflies. Cheng was first inspired to create the Prosperity series in 1998 on a visit to Jingdezhen, the ancient center of porcelain production in China and today a place of flourishing creativity. She met local craftspeople sculpting tiny butterflies, dragonflies, and bees out of porcelain, and, amazed at the speed with which they worked, Cheng ultimately hired Jingdezhen ceramists to make the butterflies needed for her Prosperity series. The enormous amount of labor involved—multiple ceramists sculpting tens of thousands of tiny butterflies—is an important component of the series.
The title of the series is a play on words: in Mandarin, the words “clothing” and “prosperity” are pronounced similarly as “fu.” At first, the sculptures look like elaborately patterned dresses, but if you look closely, each butterfly is visible, clearly hand-formed, and unique. This was inspired by Cheng’s experience living in China. People who look at China from the outside might think that they all look the same, but looking closely one can realize the uniqueness of diverse cultures and personalities. Another significance of this series is that many craftspeople worked together to create one piece of the artwork. This is like the Chinese words that are composed of many strokes that form characters. Each stroke by itself means nothing, but when the strokes are put together, they make up a word and a meaning.
Caroline Cheng has had numerous solo exhibitions, including “The Hidden Virtues” at Sotheby’s New York, “An Eternal Spring” at Sotheby’s Hong Kong, “China Blues” at The Pottery Workshop in Hong Kong, “Glazing China” at Grotto Gallery in Hong Kong to name a few. Cheng’s works were displayed at luxury hotels and restaurants in Beijing, Hong Kong, and Korea. Cheng’s works are in public and private collections including at the National Museum in Beijing, Hong Kong Museum of Art, Hong Kong Heritage Museum, Ceramic Museum in Vallauris, France; Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, USA; and British Museum in the UK. Caroline Cheng is an award winner of “Mino International Ceramic Competition, Bronze Award”, “NCECA Outstanding Achievement Award”, and “Shanghai Outstanding Female Designer Award”.