|A giant ceramic hand by Guangzhen "Po" Zhou illustrates greed in the piece Filling Up One's Desire. Image courtesy of Guangzhen "Po" Zhou
As a young man in China, Guangzhen Zhou, also known as Po, worked grueling hours in factories, painting on rice paper and carving Chinese stamps. In the evening, the aspiring artist attended English classes.
After taking the English language test in Shanghai, he applied to ten schools he had randomly selected from a catalog of American colleges and universities. "Fortunately, I was accepted at UMD and offered financial aid," Po said.
With support from UMD ceramic faculty members Tom Kerrigan and Jim Klueg, Po excelled. "The thing that struck me was his determination and his energy," Klueg said. After graduating from UMD in 1991 with an M.A., Po earned an M.F.A. from San Jose State University. He married Jane Chen, whom he met while taking English language classes in Shanghai. She is now a senior physical designer at Intel Corporation.
Today, Po's passion is bringing ceramics information to and from China and the Western world. Several times a year, Po offers tours to China for artists and educators. He also teaches classes for people of all ages at his ceramic art studio, The Clayground.
Po has written numerous books and articles about ceramics, as well as an autobiography, Carrying Clay Art on my Iron Shoulder. Po's art has been exhibited widely both in the U.S. and China and expresses, as Po says, "visual power, surrealistic shock, and a sense of humor."
Written by Cheryl Reitan, March 2013