Ceramic Sheep Are the Latest Addition to Campus Art Culture
As the 2014-15 school year got underway at Chang Jung Christian University, a flock of 35 ceramic sheep garnered attention and elicited cries of ka-wa-yi (“Cute!”) from male and female students alike. The collection was unveiled at a September 24 ceremony by CJCU President Lee Yung-lung, who carried a shepherd’s crook for the occasion. After a two-week display period in front of the Administration Building, the flock was divided up and placed in various locations at each of the six University’s colleges (the four sheep representing the College of Continuing Education were placed in the village of Datan), where they will contribute to campus art and symbolize CJCU’s commitment to its students.
At the unveiling ceremony, CJCU President Lee Yung-lung linked the art project to the university’s overall development plans and emphasized the importance his administration has placed on social responsibility. He mentioned various university initiatives undertaken since he assumed office: art projects on- and off-campus, compilation and preservation of local history, application to the city government to extend existing bike paths to the Erren River, and other efforts to develop the distinctive cultural, recreational, and environmental resources of the community.
According to CJCU Vice President Huang Po-ho, overseer of the university’s campus and community art projects, the ceramic sheep are the latest in a series of artistic endeavors, following other projects such as construction of the “Spiritual Maze” and the beautification of the Shalun Line railway overpass. These works have increased the visibility of public art on campus and added to the University’s iconic sculptures (The Good Shepherd, The Footwashing, The Burning Bush, and The Three Magi). Still, Huang points out, there is much room to increase artistic expression on CJCU’s young campus. In his opinion, public art cultivates an appreciation for the arts and humanities in students and inspires reflection on life. Expressing his hope that the CJCU campus will one day be an “arts village,” Huang stressed that the construction of campus artwork is not outsourced to others but is done by CJCU teachers and students themselves.
In the case of the ceramic sheep, two faculty members in the Department of Fine Arts, Associate Professor Lee Yuan-cheng and Lecturer Fan Jiung-Lieh supervised five students in the three-dimensional arts section of the Department (Li Yi-ying, Ye Yi-ting, Chen Yi-Hsiu, Chen Pei-yu, and Wu Chia-huei); the students dedicated two months of their summer vacation to the project. The production of each sheep required more than 12 steps, from model design to final glaze. With so much room for things to go wrong, the project was a test of both the skill and the patience of the young artists. Reflecting the University’s emphasis on individuality, no two sheep are identical; furthermore, each College’s “flock,” created by a different artist, also differs from the “flocks” of the other Colleges in characteristics such as color, weight, and accessories.
The artwork is a thematic expansion on The Good Shepherd, a bas relief sculpture on the west side of the Second Academic Building. That sculpture depicts the Good Shepherd who, in the Biblical parable, had 100 sheep and lost one. However, a careful count of the sheep in the sculpture reveals a total of only 65 sheep. “That’s why we’ve got to seek out the other 35,” explains CJCU Vice President Huang. Huang explained that, in Biblical imagery, the shepherd goes before the flock to guide, protect, and ward off danger. “This is the mission of the faculty at CJCU; they must combine the roles of teacher and shepherd, refusing to give up even one of their flock.”
The five student artists who created the ceramic sheep pose with CJCU President Lee Yung-lung (holding shepherd’s crook), Vice President Huang Po-ho (far left) and the deans of CJCU’s six colleges.