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Bob Anderson and his China programs

Bob Anderson was born in Buffalo City, New York in 1942.From 1966 to 1972 he recieved his B.F.A and M.F.A degrees from Alfred University. Soon after his graduate work he taught ceramics at the Center for Creative Studies in Detroit, Michigan for a short time. Since 1973 he founded the West Viginia University ceramics program and was the head of the department for 34 years.

My first meeting with Bob was during a slide lecture he gave at Jingdezhen Ceramic Institute in 1997. During our conversation I learned about his goals and energy concerning the China/American ceramic exchange program. I had never imagined that such a man could put so much energy into the China exchange program, non-stop for 15 years.

As a senior professor of West Virgina University, Anderson is a highly respected ceramic educator and artist. His work has been collected by many museums, galleries and private collectors. In recent years his work has been greatly influenced by ancient Chinese bronze. In 2007, one of his pieces titled, "Chinese Bronze Impressionist #3" became part of the permanent collection of the National Museum of China. His early work was greatly influeced by the fuctional ceramics being made in Alfred University, New York, and historic American Ceramics. For many years, being involed in the ceramic community and experiencing the Western and Eastern views of Ceramic Art, his own style naturally emerged. The Chinese Bronze series was made in 2003, after many visits to China. The series is mostly covered jars throwin in multiple sections, mid-range temperature and fired in oxidation. The playful and child-like representation of the bronze forms and decorations shows his free creativity when it concerns his art work.

Professor Anderson first came to China in 1992 when he first met with the famous ceramic scientists, Li Guozhen and Guo Yanyi, the first of many important friends and contacts that would begin. During this first visit he decided to start building an exchange program between West Virgina University and the Jingdezhen Ceramic Institute. Since then WVU has had over 12 summer and 4 fall semester programs sucessfully completed in Jingdezhen including over 400 international participents. Many of the participants have continued to be involved in the international ceramic community. Through the programs history, over 50 different ceramic engineers and artists from China have been able to visit American. In 2004, WVU started a student exchange program with the China's Cetntral Academy of Fine Arts and the Jingdezhen Ceramic Institute. Up to today, 6 Chinese Ceramic Graduate students were able to recieve their second Masters degree from WVU. Anderson was considered by many, including the officals at the Chinese Embassy in Washington D.C., as a bridge between Chinese and Western ceramics communities.

From Anderson's view, pocelain was amongst the greatest inventions created by the Chinese people. He believes that ceramics is an art centered around the clay and fire and was the starting point of human civilization. His impression of Jingdezhen as the porcelain capitol of China was ingrained from the very beginning of his Chinese experiences. Anderson has always said that Jingdezhen is his second home.

One of the goals of the JCI exhange program is to expose young ceramic artists from abroad to the many traditional ceramic techiques of Jingdezhen and China. Through this opportunity the many western participants have been able to broaden their own ceramic styles and ways of working. The JCI program is active during Spring, Summer and Fall semesters. There is also opportunities for profressional Artists in residence, whom work right along with the students.

The WVU China Study program has organized many ceramic artists and professors to teach different classes including, Chinese Ceramic art history, kiln firing, wheel throwing, figurative sculpture, under and overglaze decoration and Chinese caligraphy etc. Also there are many demonstrations and workshops given by local masters and artisans such as, coil built water jars, brush making, slab building, throwing, and dry trimming etc. On top of these classes there are many lectures and slide talks given. Field trips are common with their destinations including, Yixing, Yao Li, Tian Bao, Xian, Bejing, Tong Chuan, Shanghai and many local places in Jingdezhen. Students are able to experience the ancient and mondern sides of Chinese culture and ceramics.

In 2006 the WVU China Ceramic Study program succesfully made comissioned work for the United States Government. In 2007 Anderson organized the first Jingdezhen Ceramic Institute Faculty Ceramics show which toured the United States.

Being a good friend of the Jingdezhen Ceramic Institute and many other educational organizations of China, Anderson has contributed to the success of the exchange between China and the United States. Anderson has had a postive affect with introducing Chinese contemporary ceramic artists to the Western view of ceramic art.

In September of 2005, Anderson was annouced as an honorary professor of Jindezhen Ceramic Institute. He is the only foreigner to recieve such an honor.