All in the Same Boat – Tong’zhou Gong’ji - CODAworx

All in the Same Boat – Tong’zhou Gong’ji

Submitted by Judith Motzkin

Client: Shanghai Jiaotong University - Institute for Cultural and Creative Industry

Location: Shanghai, China

Completion date: 2018

Artwork budget: $5,000

Project Team


Judith Motzkin

Motzkin Studio

Dean of School

Zhang Weimin



Wall hung boat 108 collectively made ceramic heads in angled wall mounted boat. 144 x 24 x 20″; stoneware, porcelain, wood, paint. This 2018 Shanghai China installation bridges the Cambridge 2017 All in the Same Boat CSA Project and 2019 work with ESL students. In the current climate I am working on Separate Boats, Same Direction.


All in the Same Boat, Shanghai, was designed as a signature piece in the renovation of the main lobby of the school, designed to fit between existing red columns in a sitting/study area opposite the planned library. The artist was commissioned to conceive of the design and to complete the making of 108 heads. A goal of the project was to build community.The school formed a Public Art Group. 40 graduate students, faculty and staff each made one of the sculpted heads, Judy made the balance, completing 108 fired clay sculptures. The boat, while conceived by the artist, was completed after she left China.The white wall, red columns and yellow boat, with the varied clay colors and expressions of the figures, makes an internationalist design in the Chinese cultural context and aesthetic.


Responding to previous project, "All in the Same Boat", 2017, and concept drawings Dean Zhang of ICCI approved this work sited to be a focal point of the renovated school lobby to fit on a long wall between existing red columns. I conceived the boat as a 3D brush stroke in bronze or steel. Video features of birds above and rippling water below are not yet implemented.
Planned as a learning experience for a Public Art Project Group, forty of the sculptures were made by students, staff, and faculty in small group workshops under my instruction and guidance. The effect of this involvement was to enhance ownership and connection to the artwork. It also allowed more visual voices, cultural input, and insights into how we are all alike yet unique. Public Art Group administration purchased a wooden boat, sliced and mounted on the wall and painted Chinese yellow.

Additional Information

The original concept included interactive video projections of water rippling below and birds flying above the boat. This collaboration with AR/VR/Video departments in the school has not to my knowledge been carried out. I hope for an opportunity to continue this lesson in cross-cultural collaboration and revisit to adjust the piece, add the video elements, add calligraphy to the boat. I have not seen the final installation. Images are limited.