Kent State alumna wins United States Artist fellowship

Golden Girls by Kent State alumna Jennifer Datchuk. Photo courtesy of Jennifer Datchuk.

Shelby Reeves Reporter

Kent State Alumna Jennifer Ling Datchuk won a $50,000 art fellowship from United States Artists, which is given to the most compelling artists of various mediums working and living in the United States.

“I am very overwhelmed by the money part. It is kind of daunting to wrap your head around what to do with it. I’m trying to figure out how to spend it wisely,” Datchuk said.

United States Artists is an organization created in 2006 that aims to help artists across the country. Artists are nominated to apply for their award every year. This award is unrestricted and can be used for anything from paying off debt to creating new work. They support all disciplines of art including architecture, craft, dance, media, performance and writing.

Datchuk is planning on spending this money to better herself and her career. She is planning on paying off student loans and buying more equipment, like a small kiln and potter’s wheel for her studio. 

“I’m excited that I can make something that has only lived in my sketchbook as a dream and now I have the financial potential to make it a reality,” she said.

Datchuk graduated in 2004 from Kent with her BFA in crafts and a concentration in ceramics. She started her college career at the Trumbull campus, then moved to the main campus where she honed her craft and also met teacher Janice Lessman-Moss, who won this fellowship last year. Lessman-Moss used her fellowship award to better her studio and bought a new loom.

“Jen made a big impression on me because she was good and hardworking,” Lessman-Moss said. “Her work is very distinctive, very heartfelt. She is doing the work she needs to do and I admire her tremendously. I am delighted she has been recognized in this way.”

Datchuk is honored to share this recognition with Lessman-Moss who taught her and who Datchuk deeply admires and respects.

The art Datchuk creates is a representation of herself. The artist uses porcelain because it originates from China but is valued for how white it is. Datchuk views her porcelain use as a metaphor for herself since she is a child of a Chinese immigrant who felt as if she was “too Chinese for my white family and too white for my Chinese family.”

Datchuk also uses her art to express herself and make a statement about the world. Her Porcelain Power Factory brings new life to novelty items and makes them empowering for causes she believes in. 

“I started looking at objects that were mass produced that were made decades ago and rooted in the idea of kitsch something funny,” Datchuk said. “Looking at it in today’s world are rooted in misogyny and racism. I’ve been taking these objects and remaking them to reclaim the power back in them.” 

With each purchase of an item from her one-woman factory, she makes a $25 donation to Planned Parenthood of South Texas. 

To see more of Jennifer’s art or to purchase from her Porcelain Power Factory visit her at her website.

Contact Shelby Reeves at [email protected].