“A Day in the Life” with Collaborative Artists Mao Kun Chen and Chris Savage

Mao Kun Chen and Chris Savage met in grad school at the University of Calgary while studying Fine Art. Shortly after graduating, in the midst of the pandemic lockdowns, they began to collaborate first on some drawings and then on ceramics. Their process and goal of their collaborative practice has developed into a sharing about their individual and shared experiences to make visible the challenges and also the joys of their lives together. Mao was born and raised in China, and Chris grew up on the West Coast of Canada. Their collaborative ceramics have been exhibited both nationally and internationally, and they have been the recipients of numerous awards. They currently reside and work in their home studio in Calgary/Moh’kinsstis with their two cats, balancing their time between their art practice and their ceramics business Mao Projects.

Mao Kun Chen and Chris Savage
One side of a recent mural we completed for the BUMP Transit Works Project at the Max Bell/Barlow Ctrain station. 2023.
Mao Kun Chen and Chris Savage
Collaborative Platter and a selection of vessels. 2023.
Three collaborative vases we completed this year. 2023.
Part of our collaborative installation in the Fort Calgary Museum. 2023.
Studio portrait while we were artists in residence at CASA in Lethbridge. 2022.
Mao Kun Chen and Chris Savage
Mao in the midst of glazing. 2022.
Mao Kun Chen and Chris Savage
Chris in the process of drawing on a ceramic platter. 2022.


Which ’hood are you in?

We live and work in the Brentwood neighbourhood.

What do you do?

We make both functional and sculptural ceramics. Neither of us specialized in ceramics in school, Mao’s focus was on oil painting and Chris was working primarily in drawing and installation. Ceramics became a mediary form for us to bring together our different skill sets and expand our practices. We are now very obsessed with ceramics, it has taken over our whole lives since we began our initial explorations and we have a ceramics business Mao Projects alongside our collaborative practice.

What are you currently working on?

We are currently working on some larger sculptural pieces for Mao Projects and planning some new collaborative works for a residency we will be doing next year in Burnaby, BC.

Where can we find your work?

Our collaborative work can be seen in a few places in Calgary and elsewhere: The Fort Calgary Museum as a part of the Culture and Kin Exhibition that runs until Spring 2024, In the Ornament and Crime exhibition that will be on view at the Alberta Craft Council’s Calgary location in starting in early 2024, Strada Gallery Design Lab in New York, USA, the Charlie Cummings Gallery in Florida, USA, and in a group exhibit at Modern Eden Gallery in San Francisco in early 2024.

Mao Projects work can be viewed in the +15 Window Galleries at Art Commons in Calgary until the end of the year, at DIY Art Shop in London, UK, Strada Gallery Design Lab in New York, USA, and in our online shop 🙂