Originally from South Korea, currently Yoonjee Kwak is a Matsutani Fellow and long-term resident artist at the Archie Bray Foundation for Ceramic Arts, Helena MT. She earned her MFA in Ceramics at the School for American Crafts, Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in 2014 and her BFA in Ceramics and Glass at Hong-Ik University in Seoul, South Korea. She was a resident artist and taught ceramics classes at the RIT from 2014– 2017. In 2016, she received an Emerging Artist award from Ceramics Monthly magazine and was a 2016 Windgate Scholar summer resident at the Archie Bray Foundation.
Yoonjee Kwak makes sculptural vessels to represent human beings as iconic symbols from the Korean culture.
In Korea, when people talk about someone’s personality, we often use “vessel” as a metaphor of one’s spirit of tolerance. For instance, when we talk about someone who is very generous or broad-minded, we say, “His vessel is big”.
Yoonjee’s interactive conversation with the clay is vital to her process - she slowly builds up clay coils from the bottom, allowing her hand marks to remain on the surface. Through this process of building, memories of patience and time come into her pieces and she is able to create a meaningful record of her practice.