Clay . Soil . Earth & Its Spiritual Relationship with Man




“And the Lord God formed man of the slime of the earth: and breathed into his face the breath of life, and man became a living soul.” (Genesis 2: 7)

The Bible recorded the process of the creation of man by God who used the earth to form the first man in the world, Adam. This not only stated the origin and history of man, but also revealed the intimacy between man and earth. This undoubtedly has a profound impact in the West under the wide spread of Christianity while a similar idea also exists in the East, which indirectly suggested man is made from the earth. It seems that there is a similar and universal point of view about the component of man in different places and cultures. 

On one hand, the spiritual relationship between man and earth/clay/soil has a linkage with the religious ideas and beliefs but at the same time, the burial customs also play a role in it. Apart from a small number of races and tribes, most of the people would bury the dead in the earth or under the ground. The earth, what they believed, is the opposite of the sky/heaven and is also the home of the ancestor and the dead. It is strange to know that the two opposites, life and death exist in the same thing, which also has a tight relationship with man.

Man has to rely on the earth at every moment and in many aspects in order to survive. It supplies different kind of resources, materials, foods and even the physical support to man as well. On its surface, man can stand, walk and survive while the earth records what man did and happened upon it. Everything would be kept under it and recorded pitilessly even though they don't exist anymore. 

The concepts of the whole set of ceramic works are then based on the unique characteristics and spiritual meanings of clay and earth. When hydrated, clay is malleable and is able to record every mark caused by outside forces; when dehydrated, it becomes hard but fragile and can be broken down to dust and sand again easily. Every figure is squeezed and tucked, forming part of the artwork's structure. Every unit is a single entity although they could be lined up to form a group in which certain abstract patterns and structure are revealed underneath. Reading of the differences of every individual, which are immersed in the pattern and structure, would largely depend on the viewer's will and state of mind. The weariness and wreckage reveal the intrusion of time and the implication of history. It reveals the ruinous states of the individual, and, its pattern and structure through time passage. It poses different emptied and meaningless signs and evidence for the coming generations to make different judgements and interpretations.