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Eliza Au | Infinite Measure

April 6, 2017 @ 5:00 pm - May 14, 2017 @ 5:00 pm


Eliza Au is originally from Vancouver, B.C. and received her BFA from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and her MFA from the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University. She has received grants from the Canada Council for the Arts and has taught at several institutions in Canada and the United States, including the Emily Carr University of Art and Design, the Alberta College of Art and Design and the University of Iowa. Residencies she has attended include the Archie Bray Foundation for the Ceramic Arts (Helena, MT), Greenwich House Pottery (NYC, NY), The Museum of Contemporary Craft (Portland, OR), and the Corning Museum of Glass (Corning, NY).  She is currently a Visiting Professor at Monmouth College in Monmouth, Illinois, for the academic year of 2016-2017.


Eliza Au
Artist Statement

The meaning of the title, Infinite Measure can reference position and co-ordinates (x,y and z axis) of the object and how the audience’s view shifts and changes according to their movement. The word, “measure” also investigates ways of analyzing our experience of the world, and also reflects on the human desire to measure nature by the measure of our bodies.

Viewing pattern is a meditative activity. Complexity allows us to lose ourselves in the interweaving of geometric aspects and contemplate ideas of the infinite. The idea of the infinite is represented in several ways. First through the repeating pattern that alludes to the infinity symbol, the figure 8; second, through the structure of the artwork, which references a modular grid or circular, cyclistic movement; and lastly, through the relationship between the two-dimensional and the three-dimensional where planes of pattern are placed arranged consecutively in a row or on the x,y and z planes.

The objects included in the exhibition are similar to a jali or a perforated screen, which allows the viewer’s gaze to wander from the exterior to the interior of the object and also to the multiplicity of shadows which are created by directional lighting. The proposed exhibition investigates several conceptual boundaries; the boundary between the old and the new, the old represented by repeating arabesque patterns akin to Islamic designs, and the new represented by the use of digital technologies to plan and execute the objects; the boundary between materials, namely glass, ceramic and the reference to wrought-iron; and the boundary between architecture/industry and the hand-made object/craft.

I create forms that act as lines in space and patterns which mirror and replicate each other, seemingly in a dance of artificial mitosis. Working digitally in CAD (computer aided design) affects how I create and view artwork. The liminal space between complexity and order allows room for play and discovery through the rules of algorithms and parametric design. The digital interface has its own inherent surfaces and textures such as the wireframe, pixels and meshes which we experience visually. The planning and production process work in sync with each other, through line drawings in CAD which are engraved in wood and eventually cast in clay. I am interested in bringing the wireframe surface into the physical world through the processes of craft, such as plaster mold making and press molding clay.

The designs I create have a close relationship to historical ornament, particularly to the pattern motif of the arabesque. I am interested in how this motif draws a parallel between historical Islamic patterns and the contemporary wireframe structure in CAD. The underlying structure of the polar and square grid serves as a framework to create my patterns. Working with the wireframe structure in clay, structure and ornament become inseparable. Flirting with ideas of impossibility by pushing the clay to become planar sheets that are thin, sinuous and perforated, I am able to build structures that reference fluidity and contemporary architecture. The use of the undulating line to define structure and space reflect a larger culture who equates this aesthetic as a metaphor for progress and the future. A meditative rhythm is seen through the repetition of the arabesque in the pattern design and the repetition of the two-dimensional planes. A sense of lightness and effortlessness is created by the regularity of the perforated planes; the objects created seem to be divorced from mass and form as negative space defines the work as much as positive space. Formal dualities are made through color and composition; such as the use of black and white; warm and cool, as well as gradations in the work.

My work investigates how past and present ornament in architecture engages in the idea of sacred space. Ornament and abstraction have a close relationship, ornament acting as visual stimuli and also as a vehicle for social norms and ideals. Historically, architectural ornament within the Islamic mosque drew a connection between infinite repetition and ideas of divinity; in contemporary architecture such as in the work of Mark Foster Gage and Evan Douglis, the fluid line, complexity and ornamentation have re-emerged, without explicit religious ideas, but utopic ideals about society.

I am motivated to create this work as I find elegance, beauty and balance within mathematical relationships and find this works well with the technical challenges of clay. I view my process as similar to solving a mathematical equation; I gain satisfaction from discovering new pathways or proofs to new aesthetic experiences. Because my work is geometrically based, I find working digitally allows me to create an infinite number of variations within an open field for play. My work provides an outlet for my need to discover and participate in the meditative act of making without a direct connection to religious belief. Our epoch is the same as all other epochs before us, using current technology to re-interpret ornament that has come before us and modify their meanings to fit our own purpose. The skeleton may act as a metaphor for ornament; it serves as the backbone of our identity and through abstraction it presents coded meanings of cultural production and values.


Thursday April 6, 5 pm to 8 pm
Works will be on display from:
April 6 – May 14 2017

Vernissage :
Jeudi 6 avril de 17 h à 20 h
Les œuvres seront exposées du :
6 avril au 14 mai 2017


April 6, 2017 @ 5:00 pm
May 14, 2017 @ 5:00 pm
Event Category:


Ottawa School of Art Downtown Campus


OSA Main Gallery (Downtown Campus)
35 George Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1N8W5 Canada
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Ottawa School of Art / École d'Art d'Ottawa
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