Kai Ning Castro

light blue background and light yellow mug shape with abstract patterns all around. + Enlarge
Controlled Chaos 02 2022 Watercolor on paper 12 x 18 inches
A collection of pattern paintings and wheel-thrown jars on display. (Photo by Julia Clouser) + Enlarge
Controlled Chaos Installation View 04 2022 Ceramics, watercolor on paper, acrylic on canvas
Different shapes of mug drawings + Enlarge
Mug Shapes 2022 Pen on paper 12 x 18 inches
four different wheel-thrown jars with floral and abstract pattern surfaces. + Enlarge
Flower Jars 2022 Earthenware Ceramics

In a group of artwork entitled Controlled Chaos, I exercise the dynamics between control and letting go while maintaining the fun in painting and ceramics. By drawing closer to the relationship between painting and pottery, the series includes a collection of pattern paintings, wheel-thrown, and handbuilt pottery. The paintings seek to distort the pottery forms to become their own thing or fourth thing.

This body of work is influenced by my interest and journey in creating utilitarian objects with clay. Forms and patterns are central to surface decoration in pottery. With the intention to investigate my choices in creating patterns, I created a system that allows for a growing list of fantastical mug shapes. The system starts with a combination of geometry and organic shapes. The assemblage of shapes results in a new mug shape. Each mug shape becomes a stand-alone pattern for the paintings.

Considering what feels safe and organized, the list of mug forms and shapes provides a safe structure for the painting process. Conversely, leaving children’s marks on the paintings allows room for disorder and confusion. This notion of control and chaos responds to my belief in teaching about trusting the process and embracing mistakes. Asking students to be more daring and take more risks with their art helps all of us to be open to different ways of knowing.

The questions that guide my work are: What makes you feel safe? What are the ways you organize your life? How can you let go? What are some moments that make you feel uncomfortable?

Similar to my process of inquiry, students generate their own questions to guide targeted research, creation, presentation, and reflection. Using visual art to connect context to practice, I create a curriculum to increase students’ cognitive demands and opportunities to collaborate with classroom teachers. To me, a student’s work is a record of process, progression, and understanding of individuality and ownership in art.