YehRim Lee

Artist Statement

My sculptures are hybrid bridges that I build between cultures. They connect masculine and feminine, East-West, decorative/functional, and structure with fragility, allowing diverse aspects to blend and intertwine. With my glazes and forms, I explore appetite and gluttony. These flower and cake landscapes open and flow with icing and snow. The wet forms and dripping surfaces embody appetites for food, visual beauty and physical pleasure. Through clay and surfaces, I explore dynamic, complex, fragmented, integrated, and internal reflections of humans in culture.

My touch is a documentation of my expression. I try to not hesitate. I work towards a process that is believable to me. Fast, intuitive, confident, powerful: these are the kinds of movements that I try to embody. My forms reflect the complexity of modern life. These complexities cause friction amongst one another; they accumulate and fuse together like my cultural identity.

My mother made ceramic work while I was in her womb. My father is an Onggi potter and I learned from him how hard the artist’s life of labor can be. From my upbringing in Korea and my later ceramic studies in Jingdezhen, China, I have developed a strong sense of community. I bring my experiences of East Asian culture, tradition, and history to my new American sense of individualism. It is stimulating for me to live and work internationally.

I want people to bring their own imaginations to their experience with my work. I hope that in viewing my work, their languages and cultural memories will blend together with moments of empathy, channeling though mind and soul, evoking cross-continental conversation.

Mixed materials and ceramics give form to my conceptual interests. I digitally print acrylic film with patterns and layers of color that make me feel the heat of wanting to pursue something. I am a spontaneous buyer: commercial desire, shopping sprees, I know these well. I choose clay and glazes and create surfaces that reflect this intuitive process. I fire and refire to excess, only stopping when the material starts to crack or move too much. These multiple firings offer changes in vibrancy: from “too muchness” pink to sweet sweaty blues, from icing yellow to greedy green. Through colors and glaze I explore luxury and decadence. I make patterns in Photoshop before experimenting with glazes and firing, so my surfaces crystallize, facet, fragment, stylize, sharpen, distort, blur and cause noise.

In recent years, I have had the opportunity to embrace frugality and austerity, in contrast to the consumerist lifestyle of my past. Through the work I try to find myself. When I am alone in the studio, I feel strongly connected to what is truly satisfying in life. Through my forms, I repeat movements of labor. For me this is a meditative way of making. Making the work satisfies me more than anything else. Like my parents, I am going together with my work, through life. Work is not the goal of my life, it is meaningful movement that I pursue.

-- YehRim Lee


YehRim Lee was born in Seoul, Korea. The way she interacts with her work is directly connected to her background in ceramics. Her sculptures are hybrid bridges between cultures. They connect masculine and feminine, East-West, decorative/functional, and structure with fragility, allowing diverse aspects to blend and intertwine. She earned her B.F.A in ceramics from Korea National University of Cultural Heritage (2013). She received her MFA in Ceramic Art at Alfred University (2017). She is currently visiting resident artist at University of Georgia.