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Check Out Frank Thong’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Frank Thong. Them and their team share their story with us below:

Frank Thong was born in Kansas City, Missouri, and attends the Kansas City Art Institute. Frank graduated with a BFA in Ceramics, a minor in Arts Entrepreneurship with an Asian Studies certificate. He has received various grants such as the Access Missouri Grant, Nathan and Thelma Notkin Ceramic Award, and Leslie-Hendrix Endowment. Growing up as an Asian-American, Frank has always felt like an outlier among his peers. His work focuses on the balance between Eastern and Western influences, contextualized through his cultural identity. The playfulness of the form, color, and patterns forms a collage of different backgrounds meshed together, something recognizable yet not. Frank plans to utilize his minor in Entrepreneurship to create a space where the Asian-American community in the Midwest feels like they have a place to rely on. In addition to expanding on the idea of appreciation for Asian culture in America, he plans to work continuously on refining his craft to convey his message.

We all face challenges, but looking back, would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
There are many challenges to the process. I am inexperienced and incapable of fully achieving my goals at the moment. Being in school and focusing on my artistic practices takes time away from working on my entrepreneurship goals, although it is a component that synergies and fuels that same practice. However, I can contribute more time to that process now that I have graduated. Other challenges I face are being able to put myself out there as an entity, establishing a foundation for it all, and the financial issues that occur along the way.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar, what can you tell them about what you do?
Clay. I manipulate and warp this substance into vessels to teach others about social issues regarding the discrimination against Asian-Americans. With the potter’s wheel, I contextualize clay into forms such as bowls, cups, and vases in hopes that these objects connect me to others. With each piece I create from my hands, I hope to chip away at social stereotypes and one day create a place where Asian-Americans can be represented. The intent of my work conveys complex conversations with brushed symbolic imagery, using the vessels as a canvas to strike dialogue between object and person. From the East to the West, I seek a combination of imagery and form from these distant cultures to capture perspectives, views, and relationships between groups of people in America. Drawing concepts from Asian ceramics and my cultural experiences growing up, I compose functional yet ergonomic objects encapsulating the Asian-American dilemma. On the pieces, I paint symbolic imagery that reflects my heritage from previous familial generations. My brush is dipped in materials reflective of ancient ceramics to bridge into the modern era. People often think about the well-known blue and white ware, but my work inherits more than that. From San Cai ware to Celadon and Imperial ware, I allow these historical techniques to caress the ceramic forms I make to compose a reflection of my Asian-American experience. Whether a cup, plate, bowl, or sculpture, these objects must create intimate connections and generate queries about social injustice.

Can you talk to us a bit about the role of luck?
I am very fortunate to have been exposed to the Kansas City community. Without that, I would not consider venturing on these paths I seek today. I am also lucky to have grown up in a family of hardworking parents without them. I would not have been able to attend college and realize my goals.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Max Wagner

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