The Clouds

Dong, Nick
Nick Dong works in a wide variety of media from jewelry and metals to drawings, sculpture, ceramics, and installation.  According to the artist, however, his goal is not simply to create beautiful aesthetic objects.  Instead, he is interested in the interaction of his work with the viewer and the myriad responses it elicits.  As he has stated, “I am a conceptual metalsmith, mixed-media sculptor and socio-commodity engineer with the intention of creating works in order to ignite an experiential moment.”  He continued, “Art is not an object nor a picture; art is the unique impact created by that object or picture.”  Dong’s quietly evocative drawings on metal, encased in layers of transparent enamel, exemplify these intentions.  Shown together in a group called “Frozen by Fire,” each drawing depicts a different subject – family members, friends, or places – and all have profound personal meaning for the artist.  While some subjects are rendered in exacting detail, Dong’s intention is not to describe reality.  Rather, through these laconic poems in graphite and enamel he seeks to share a sense of amazement: “My artwork is a way to express and share my deep sense of wonder.”

Dong was first drawn to metals and jewelry because of the associated technical challenges.  As he stated: “It was the hardest thing I’d even done!”  He became interested in enamel because it offered a means to protect his otherwise fragile drawn images. Describing his technique, he stated, “I apply graphite drawing onto larger enameled metal surfaces then fire more layers of translucent enamel on top to “freeze” the drawing within.”  He also liked the slow, contemplative, almost meditative nature of the process. “I appreciate the meticulous process.  The slowness helps me filter my thoughts and solidify my idea into a brief yet essential sentence.”Dong was born in Taipei, Taiwan.  In 1996 he received a BFA in Mixed Media and Painting from Tung-Hai University.  He moved to the United States in 1999 to study at the University of Oregon in Eugene where was awarded an MFA in Metalsmithing and Jewelry in 2002.  After completing his MFA at UO studying with Kate Wagle, he moved to Oakland, CA.  He worked as a bench jeweler at Gallery FLUX in San Francisco from 2003 to 2004 where he honed his skills as a jeweler.  He has taught or led workshops at numerous colleges and universities including the California College of the Arts in Oakland.  His work has regularly been exhibited in the Bay Area, as well as in Asia, and in 2012 he participated in 40 Under 40: Craft Futures at the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C.

Dong continues to utilize new materials in his work exploiting their formal and technical capabilities for conceptual and expressive purposes.  He likes both the challenges these materials offer and the opportunities they provide: “Different materials come from different industries; they carry different cultural and social contexts.  In my work, I utilize contextualized materials to generate references, to tell stories.  Different materials sometimes require different skill sets.  I appreciate the challenge of acquiring new skills; it’s an opportunity to grow as a maker and to refresh my point of view as an artist.”