JUS-WhitewareIIIandI_a

Artistic Statement

I was born and educated in Korea with a Bauhaus-influenced art background. University ceramics education in the 1960s was still in its infancy. Traditional vessel forms and surface decoration were emphasized. Koreans were eager to recapture the glory of Koryo Dynasty celadon and Chosun Dynasty white wares after a fifty year dark age, including the 36-year Japanese occupation and the Korean War. I desired to explore sculptural ceramics as a fine art medium, but my direction was uncertain and vague. My search for a new ceramic education brought me to graduate study in the United States.

 

After receiving B.F.A. and M.F.A. degrees from Seoul National University, I came to Berkeley on a University of California Regent Fellowship. Teaching there was Peter Voulkos, the incomparable American clay revolutionary. Even though I was thirsty for a new clay approach, I was totally unprepared for what would confront me. Peter Voulkos' abstract expressionistic works and Bob Arnerson's funky pop ceramic sculptures represented, according to what I learned in Korea, everything that good art should not be. I was torn between contradicting cultures and aesthetics. After my initial shocks and agonizing months of walking on the beach, I started to re-evaluate and deprogram my early training. I wanted to begin again as a little child playing in the sand making my own marks. This was a turning point of my life; it gave me a chance to discover who I really was. And most importantly it taught me to not fear being lost, or different. It was a starting point of my serious soul searching.

From my Berkeley years, I learned to be true to myself and trust my judgment. Over the years, whenever my artistic perspective was in crisis from social pressures, I was able to return to the state of being a lost child playing in the sand and to gather a strength from there on. It has become a point of reference and an inspiration of freedom.

Throughout my career, my work has evolved into many different aspects of art making, but what has remained consistent is my intention to thrive on the challenge of my previous work. I try to experiment with one piece after another instead of making a master piece. My entire career is one of continuously struggling experiment.

 

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Common threads I have in most of my work are time as a visual element and scale beyond human perception. The eternal time span of Earth compared to human life and the incredible size of nature compared to the human scale make my existence and art-making temporal and humble. My fascination with nature's lasting power and vastness manifests strongly in my works. The ocean and desert surround me in California. The powerful ocean and its waves dwarf me. Vast dried earth and sands cleanse me. When I am with nature, I find myself peaceful and spiritual.

Many things in my life, especially my recent health problems, have evoked a thought of death as the moment of returning to a primal element such as earth's dust. When faced with my own mortality, every day seems more precious; seeing another sunrise next day is a blessing. Every sunrise and sunset has richer meaning. The colors of the sky are even more vibrant.

I am re-defining the concept of human scale and time from a different perspective. Sometimes the meaning of my work may be ambiguous to the viewers, but I encourage the viewers to have their own interpretation of my works. I believe they will relate my works with their own views of life. As Marcel Duchamp said, the viewer completes the creative cycle.

Teaching

  • Professor,
    San Diego City College, San Diego, California, USA.
    Sep 1990-present
  • Instructor of Ceramics,
    Grossmont College, El Cajon, San Diego.
    Aug 1985-Jun 1990
  • Instructor of Ceramics,
    San Diego State University, San Diego.
    Sep 1986-Dec 1986
  • Instructor of Ceramics,
    San Diego State University, San Diego.
    Sep 1984-May 1985
  • Instructor of Art,
    Mira Costa College, Oceanside, San Diego.
    Feb 1983-Jun 1990
  • Instructor of Art,
    San Diego Mesa College, San Diego.
    Sep 1981-Jun 1986
  • Instructor of Art,
    Roane State College, Harriman, Tennessee, USA.
    Sep 1975-Jun 1980

Education

  • Master of Arts in Ceramic Sculpture,
    University of California at Berkeley, USA.
    1969
  • Master of Fine Arts in Ceramics,
    Seoul National University, Korea.
    1968
  • Bachelor of Fine Arts in Ceramics,
    Seoul National University, Korea.
    1966

Professional Affiliations

  • Member and Past President: Allied Craftsmen of San Diego
  • Past Artistic Director: Combined Organization of Visual Arts (COVA) of San Diego
  • Member of NCECA: National Council on Education of Ceramic Arts
  • Member: American Crafts Council