Taitung man overcomes discrimination through pottery

By Huang Ming-tang and William Hetherington  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Wed, Nov 15, 2017 - Page 4

Art has helped a 41-year-old man from Taitung County overcome the discrimination he has encountered due to pervasive lipoma — a condition resulting in benign tumors composed of body fat.

Chiang Chun-hsiang (江俊祥), who began his study of pottery in May, described his introduction to the art as a life-changing incident.

His work was recently displayed at an exhibition by professional potter Zudweyi Ruvaniyao, a Paiwan Aborigine.

The glossy monotone surfaces of his work reflect his longing for smooth skin, Chiang said, adding that pottery has enabled him to live a happier life.

Chiang said the tumors began to appear all over his body when he was 10.

He has had surgery to remove the tumors, but they kept growing back, he added.

The tumors have been a constant source of stares and misunderstanding, especially from children who often say things like, “How scary, he is covered in pimples,” Chiang said.

A woman bumped into him at a supermarket and then yelled at him, he said.

“There was even one time when I was kicked out of a buffet restaurant because the owner thought I would scare off other customers. I had to have a friend go and get food for me,” Chiang said.

Chiang, a Bunun from Yanping Township (延平), said he has always had great difficulty finding work and was often forced to earn money harvesting pineapples.

“However, the work can be painful. My skin becomes unbearably itchy when I stay in the sun for too long,” Chiang said.

Chiang said it was not until this year that things changed when he met Hu Mei-fang (胡梅芳), an employment agency worker who introduced him to pottery.

Hu met with Zudweyi, who has been teaching pottery to 20-student classes for the past three years.

Zudweyi hired Chiang and another Bunun, Hu Yi-ran (胡依然), as his first studio assistants.

Hu Yi-ran had been giving Chiang rides to the studio every day, and after he died due to an illness, Zudweyi provided Chiang with housing near the studio so he could continue working.

“Chiang’s work is very special. His pieces are smooth and simple — they reflect the artist’s inner desires,” Zudweyi said, adding that Chiang needs only space and resources to produce work of exceptional quality.

Chiang said he is no longer affected by comments from strangers, adding that he tells people: “Do not look at me, look at my works.”

Chiang was one of three artists highlighted at a recent exhibition held by the National Taitung Living Art Center, where more than 10 of his pieces were displayed.

Chiang appeared at the exhibition to introduce his works.