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