Growing up in the United States the son of immigrant Korean parents, I am often situated between cultures looking from one side into another. Living and working in metropolitan centers such as New York, Chicago, Shanghai, Seoul and Vancouver, as well as the rural communities of Alfred, Jingdezhen and Helena has raised questions of identity and assimilation. I have experienced being an outsider in the country of my heritage to being one of a minority of Asians in Montana. My work allows me to re-interpret and confront questions of place and belonging. Having begun my artistic career learning Asian pottery techniques in a Western education system, I am also continually investigating the sources and ownership of cultural influence.
The objects I create collect elements of form, decoration, color and material from various cultures while questioning failure, expectation and intent. They offer a collision of influences from various origins--Chinese, Korean, French, Dutch, English, Minoan, etc. reflecting my passion for historical ceramics and insights on the past. Ceramic production has long been influenced by an industrial standard of perfection and I commit myself to the integrity and craftsmanship of form and decoration in each piece. Deconstructing and imploding the forms creates a visceral reaction that defies the human desire for perfection and confronts the perception of value. It is in this act that I hope to challenge and redefine what is beautiful.
Steven Young Lee has been the resident artist director of the Archie Bray Foundation for the Ceramic Arts in Helena, Montana since 2006. In 2004-05, he lectured and taught at numerous universities throughout China as part of a one-year cultural and educational exchange in Jingdezhen, Shanghai and Beijing. In 2005-6 he was a visiting professor at Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design in Vancouver, B.C.
Steve has lectured extensively in North America and Asia. In March 2013 he participated on a panel, “Americans in the Porcelain City,” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. In 2013, he was one of several international artists invited to participate in “New Blue and White,” an exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston that featured contemporary artists working in the blue-and-white tradition of ceramic production. In the Fall of 2016 his work will be featured as part of the Renwick Invitational at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C.
He is represented by the Duane Reed Gallery, Ferrin Contemporary and the Archie Bray Foundation Gallery. His work has been collected by the Smithsonian Museum, the Daum Museum of Contemporary Art, the Four Seasons Hotel in Seoul, Korea, as well as many private collections.
Steve received his BFA and MFA in Ceramics from Alfred University. Originally from Chicago, he lives in Helena with his wife, Lisa and their son and daughter Gavin and Florence.