Sometimes it is not easy to distinguish “contemporary art in ceramic media” and “contemporary ceramic art”. Dr Qian Peng(2016), from the Australian National University, understanding of these two areas is that “contemporary art in ceramic media” is contemporary art that involves the use of ceramic materials: and “contemporary ceramic art” is ceramics made with contemporary concepts by artists trained in ceramics. As a maker, it is my view that these two branches in the field have different intentions. The intention of contemporary art in ceramic media privileges concept, with materiality being of secondary importance. The intention of works in the contemporary ceramic art category is to transform ideas into ceramics, privileging neither materials nor concept.
The origin of such definitions is rooted in the discipline of ceramic art, which relates to a long-standing debate between craft and (fine) art. Writing in the early 20th century, Yanagi Sōetsu (1889-1961) maintained, “there are at least two ways to art. One is called Fine Art, and the other one is called Craft.” While quite different from Yanagi’s perspective, these two ways have much in common, many contemporary theorists suggest they are the same. Howard Risati says, “there is no significant difference between them, and therefore that there is no justifiable reason to consider them separate categories or distinct activities”. Anne Mcpherson in “on the dignity of craft” states, “art and craft are easily held under one umbrella.”13 As such, it is possible for me to propose a single field of ceramic art which can support both possibilities.
Contemporary ceramics is because of the use of ceramics creates a specific concept related to ceramic culture, the use of ceramics has cultural significance. At this time, ceramics is not only a material or carrier, but also an artistic symbol (language) expressed by of a specific concept, such a work I think can be defined as "contemporary ceramics". If ceramics is merely a material that is suitable for the expression of a particular concept of a work, such as the mud, wood and iron material in sculpture or oil paints in painting, rather than the necessary artistic symbols of the specific concept of the work, the use of ceramics just has the materialistic significance, but not the cultural significance. Although the works are still contemporary art, but cannot be called "contemporary ceramics", just like cannot be called "contemporary mud sculpture", "contemporary wood sculpture", "contemporary copper and iron sculpture", etc. The typical examples are Duchamp's work “Spring”.