making meaningful connections


2019ICEX_FBeventsHdr-01

I have been working with clay for about 12 years. Add a few more for high school and college years.

In 2009, I was involved in helping to promote Clay3. Back then, it was a regional ceramics competition held at Clay Space, a co-op studio in Warrenville. Since then, they have moved to Lisle and now the competition is a national event. I worked on designing the visual graphics and marketing materials. I found that celebrating other artists’ achievements very rewarding and over the next 10 years, I join the board of ceramics arts guilds and organizations that help promote and educate fellow clay artists. In this way, I felt I was helping myself understand where I stand as an artist and navigate the clay scene while helping others advance their work and careers.

When I started to promote my own work—submitting to be juried into various local, regional, national and international ceramics competitions, participating in local art festivals and holiday craft fairs—I found the effort exhausting. The acceptances and the rejections are a roller coaster ride of emotions. Affirmation of my work being good enough to be selected for the exhibition and in someone’s shopping cart is short lived and the rejection emails lingers too long in my idle thoughts. I longed for someone else to champion my work and me as an artist.

In 2017, I was invited by a good friend, Lee Middleman, to attend the Yixing China Ceramic Art Symposium. The two weeks spent with 40 artists from all over the globe gave me a new understanding of the world of ceramics and the people in it. Working side by side, reveling in each other’s techniques and methodology was an experience that NCECA couldn’t deliver. It was not a competitive experience, but a celebratory one. Making connections to meet again on a different part of the world some day.

The following year, 2018, I invited two Korean ceramics artists, Kim Young Soo and Shin Young Taek, and Adam Field from Helena, Montana, to Palo Alto Art Center to what will become the International Cultural Exchange Week. The concept was simple. Invite artists from outside of the US, along with a US artist who practice culturally similar work and share their practice with the local ceramics community at the Art Center through lectures, demonstrations, workshops and exhibition. The work to produce and facilitate this event was physically demanding. Long hours of managing artists schedules and logistics was not something I have done before. And, I found out that I tend to make big plans bigger. (Word of caution, don’t let me plan your wedding.)

Good work is rewarded with more work!

October, 2018. Kim Young Soo invited me to Sanbao Institute in Jingdezhen, China as one of 4 Korean artists to represent the tea lifestyle and culture. 23 days were spent working side by side with other masters of the arts, being presented along side of 20 other international artists at Doumu, a historic ceramic village and home to the 1000 year old wood kiln during their ceramics festival, and meeting Jackson Li, my generous host for the entire trip.

Next month, March 15-24th, 2019 International Cultural Exchange Week

celebrates Chinese ceramic artists from Sanbao, Jingdezhen, Shanghai, Changchun, Yixing and Fremont, California. Artists include, Jackson Li, Guangzhen Zhou, Xuan Zhou, Meiqun Gu and Hsin-Chuen Lin. For one short week, through lectures, demonstrations and hands-on workshops, Chinese ceramics will live in Palo Alto, California.

I have been fortunate enough to be at the right place in time, meeting key influencers and having the support of my colleagues.

I find the biggest reward from offering myself to help others. This program isn’t only to promote the invited artists and their work. It is for the community around me who want to learn, who want new inspirations, who want to see and do something new.

 

Advertisements

Biting off more that I can chew.


6 years ago, our family relocated to SF Bay Area. The thought was to slow down and enjoy watching my kids grow up, going to basketball games and getting started in my second career in ceramics. To my delight (i think), my career in ceramics turned into… 3 exhibitions, Ceramics Symposium in China, 9 sales opportunity per year, 2 workshops and 2 teaching sessions, 2 board positions for ceramics and a part-time job that includes inviting visiting artists, scheduling and organizing workshops, sales and exhibitions.

End of last year, I made a mental note to slow down.

January saw me on the bleachers for my boys’ basketball games. High School basketball season is up to 3 games per team per week. I watched a lot of basketball. Enough to lose my voice for days!

In February, California takes a Mid-Winter Break that used to be called Ski Week. Apparently, it’s when Californians go skiing. We went to Hawaii. 10 days of hiking, biking and eating our way around Maui’s Road to Hana, Haleakala, and the sites around Honolulu and Waikiki Beach. Most of the time in the rain.

My March and April was all about the Wood-Fire Workshop at the Art Center and Spring Valley Anagama and then the 15 day Visiting Artists workshops and exhibition (more on that another time), coordinating my son’s basketball team tournament, finishing April with a Pit Fire Workshop.

May finds me at the Silicon Valley Open Studios…all three weekends! Even on Mothers Day! (See details at the end of this post.)

June has me demonstrating Saangam Style at Clay Carnival presented by Orchard Valley Ceramic Arts Guild. This year held at Clay Planet in Santa Clara. (www.ovcag.org)(Clay Carnival 2018)

July is ACGA Clay & Glass Festival in Palo Alto. (www.acga.net)

August sees me in Paris and Bordeaux, France. (Follow on instagram)

September finds me leading another Hands-On Pit Fire Workshop. (Info to come.)

20 days in October spent in JingdeZhen, China for a Teapot Workshop and Exhibition! (I will have to catch you up on my time in YiXing last year)

November starts with the holiday sales season that continues through December. (See Events page for update)

Maybe next year, I’ll slow down.
Until then, hope you will visit me at one of my events…and to start, visit with me this weekend, SVOS Site # 176, 842 Stendhall lane, Cupertino, CA.

This weekend is the third and the final week of Silicon Valley Open Studios. I will be Cupertino, CA with three talented clay artists, Lisa Molaro and Cindy Percival. If you missed me in the two other weekends in Los Altos, this is your chance.

Saturday, we will be welcoming a special guest, Luisa S. Borja, a Bay Area Stylist and Floral Designer. She will be giving us a styling demonstration using fresh flowers. You will find me working on the wheel throughout the weekend too!

SVOS May 5-6, 12-13, 19-20


Every year I make point of reminding my self to reduce my commitments. Between my part time job at the Palo Alto Art Center, Board position with ACGA, Tournament Coordinator with my 10th grade boys basketball team, I make just enough time to baby sit my 4 year old grandson, make meals, do some dishes and a load of laundry. Oh and pottery.

Yes, my real work is alway on the back burner. It’s the “squeeze some work in” work.

Well, this year started off easy enough, but then March happened with a Wood Fire Workshop and 15 day visiting artist residency & exhibition at the art center.

April is the basketball tournament that our team is hosting plus a Pit Fire Workshop,

May will be three weekends of Silicon Valley Open Studios to show my work.

June will be make more inventory month for the July ACGA Clay and Glass Festival on June 14-15 at the Palo Alto Art Center.

August finds me in Bordeaux!

September is back to school with a possible Pit Fire Workshop again.

OCTOBER is a month long teapot residency, workshop and exhibition in Jingdezhen, China!

November high school basketball season starts along with the fall show OVCAG Art In Clay, Olive Hyde Holiday Gala,

And Blossom Hill Holiday Fine Arts Show, Palo Alto Art Center Holiday Studio Sale in December finishes me off the year.

 

Maybe next year, I will slow down a bit…

But I’m already planning for the Chinese visiting artists programming in March with a Wood-fire Workshop, Glaze Chemistry Workshop with John Britt… And, there might be another China trip and a Korea trip…

 

ps. Please come to my open studios in the next three weekends. I have lots of new work!

Making Teapots Workshop!


Making Teapots Workshop with Miki! September 9 & 10, 2017

This is a 2-day, hands-on wheel workshop to make teapots with me at Blossom Hill Crafts in Los Gatos, CA

Cost: $150
Limit: 15 participants

http://blossomhillcrafts.com/shop/making-teapots/

 

A spout, lid and a handle placed just right on a vessel is all you need to make a teapot. So, why is this a concept that is so difficult in practice? Does it dribble as it pours? Does the lid not fit? Is the handle uncomfortable to hold and to serve?

This 2-day workshop will focus on bringing together the various elements that is necessary to make a functioning teapot.

Saturday, Sept 9th, 12:30-5:30pm
Day One will start with a presentation by Miki Shim-Rutter and her teapot story followed by a demonstration of making each pieces and consideration for how to plan for bringing it all together. Participants will make several teapot forms, lids, spouts and handles.

Sunday, Sept 10th, 10am-4pm
Day Two will continue with demonstration of how the parts come together with special focus on fitting lids, attaching spouts and handles.

Participants will learn to throw off the hump, trimming off a wet chuck, making lids to fit, and various handle techniques.

Whether your tea of choice is for loose leaf, or tea bag, English black tea or pu-erh, the right teapot enhances your enjoyment and create conversation when shared.

Let’s make one,…or many, together!

Please bring your own throwing and trimming tools, a various sized hole cutters, a snack and your favorite tea cup.

 

Story of the teapot lady.


“How long have you been doing pottery?”

This is one of those questions that I get asked often…along with “how did you get started?”,  “how long did it take you to make this piece?” and “are you Japanese or Chinese?”

I am Korean-American. Korean by ethnic heritage and American by citizenship. Does this have anything to do with my pottery? Maybe my Asian heritage has everything to do with who I am and how my work has evolved.

I knew at the age of seven, with pride at my first blue ribbon on my drawing at school, that I would be an artist. It was either that or an airline stewardess—it was glamorous back then. My father persuaded against being a stewardess—not a career path for a daughter of an elite family. I figured I was too short to reach the overhead compartment anyway. He sold me on studying art in Paris. We moved to US when I was nine, and 10 years later, my parents divorced during my freshman year in college. My mom, who gave up her dance career to get married and raise a family—like women of proper breeding are expected to do in Korea—remarried so that she could send her four kids to college. I wanted independence and a real career. I switched from Fine Arts: Textiles and Ceramics to Visual Communication—Graphic Design. Somewhere along the way of climbing the corporate ladder in Marketing and Advertising, I stopped being an artist.

I touched clay for the first time in high school in 1982 but didn’t make my first teapot until 27 years later in 2009. I struggled to conceive, construct, and craft this teapot so much that in defeat, I swore that I would never ever make another teapot,… ever again.
IMG_0832.JPG

That failed teapot haunted me for over a year. We all have to start somewhere! I started making teapots again. I explored different body forms, handles, and lids. And I struggled through the engineering of what makes a teapot a teapot. Did you know that the placement of the spout’s tip is determined by the water level in the body? Or that it takes care to ensure the glaze doesn’t fill in the strainer holes? Or that the handle has to be long enough so that the lid has space lift out comfortably? Or that carefully cleaning the glaze off of the gallery helps the lid not stick to the body? The list of failures/learnings still continue. But with each series, I can point to more successes than losses.

In 2012, my husband and I moved our family to the Bay Area, found OVCAG, and I participated in my first Art In Clay where I showed work produced in Chicago and realized that the eye for pottery on the west coast is different than in the midwest. Colors were brighter, surface decoration and texture more vibrant and alive. I think the same can be said of the area in general. But more than the natural environment, I was hit with a cultural shock I haven’t felt until this move. What I am used to is anxiously walking through a diner in my husband’s home town in rural Illinois, where every head turns to stare as if Asians are aliens from outer space. Even my white husband couldn’t shield the blinking neon arrows pointed at my whole being. In the bay area, my Asian-ness is a non-event. Even my bi-racial marriage seemed the norm, maybe even hip.

rutter_woodfired_2015

Asian influences found their way into my work… maybe they were there all along. I was fortunate to be able to stop working full-time to focus on pottery. Now with more free time, internet access opened my eyes to the inspiration I needed to focus my vision and work towards finding my voice. Traditional forms with contemporary interpretations appealed to me the most. Sensual lines that hint at volume, yet weightlessness, at the same time. Who’d have thought that a vessel could be so sexy! Naturally, when I was invited to wood fire with Phil Park at Spring Valley Anagama, I jumped into the fire with both feet. Sexy and HOT! I think potters have a bit of Pyro tendencies! While forced heat scares me (propane and gas kilns), wood kiln-firing and pit-firing is like sitting around a camp fire. Mesmerizing and energizing at the same time. My two season wood-firing experience only scratched the surface of its potential for me. I look at it as a gift from the kiln. I’m still learning to read the fire and listen for the roar.

I’m not sure that I’ve found that definitive voice in my work, but when I’m introduced to new friends, my teapots seem to be the focus of attention. I enjoy making teapots now. Can’t say that I have the magic formula for the pourfect spout. I’m advancing but still exploring the many facets of the teapot’s purpose and story.

So, how long does it take to make a teapot? Don’t know yet. Still working on it.

Am I there yet?


Sometimes, my life feels like a super drama. Pick a daytime soap and drop me in. Ha! There might even be an evil twin who was abducted by aliens…you never know. In real life, I have it good. No, I have it better than most. Is it ideal? Maybe not, but seriously, who’s is? And isn’t one’s ideal, another’s discontent?

The masks we wear everyday get old and tired. We hide behind makeup, smiles and curtain of emotional shields hoping it will protects us from what scares us. But it’s our own insecurity that we can’t face head on. Looking for reassurance, acceptance and approval.

We define ourselves by our environment and circumstances. But when we create the identity lead by our heart and passion, our true self is realized. Am I there yet? No. Will I get there? I hope so.

As my day come to a close, I reflect on how I spent my hours and minutes that get me to the midnight lights out for the sleep that had been calling for me. Being a mom, wife, grand mother and a studio assistant keeps me busy.  And on occasion, I am reminded that I’m a potter too. The day is done, but I am acutely aware that too many things are left undone.

Maybe tomorrow I will get the slurry of clay between my fingers and feel a sense of accomplishment and pride in my hearts passion.

Because today, I am left undone.

Soda Fired Teapot, March '16
Soda Fired Teapot, February ’16

Let’s finish on a positive note…

I am pleased to announce that I have been accepted in to Two exhibitions that open next month:

– Purposeful Pottery presented by Blue Line Arts at the WestPark Workshop Gallery, 405 Vernon St. #100, Roseville, CA
Dates: April 16 – May 14, 2016
2016_AnagamaTeapot3_a 2016_RedTeapot5_a

Sun City Lincoln Hills Exhibition in conjunction with America’s ClayFestIV at Orchard Creek Lodge, 965 Orchard Creek Lane, Lincoln, CA
Dates: April 16 – May 14, 2016
2016_SodaTeapot1_a

 

 

Fresh from the wood fire kiln 2016.


2 months into the year and I’ve participated in 3 wood firings, and one more coming up next week! It’s a lot of work, but the little pyro in me is loving every ache and sleepless nights when I get teapots that look like these!

I think I’m getting the hang of what to expect–at least what to look for–out of the wood kiln and more specifically from the soda and salt firings. The teapot forms have been refined to take advantage of the movements of the flame and to allow for the ash and glaze to enhance surface effects. These 7 teapots survived in its whole without much touch up post firing. Credit to good wadding placement and key positioning in the kiln.

Several of these teapots show signs of heavy body reduction early in the firing. While this is not usually desirable and could cause carbon coring, there doesn’t seem to be any bad results from it. It really highlights the textures and coil details very well. You can tell which have the heavy body reduction by the “smokey” coloring—that’s the carbon trapped in the body of the clay under the ash/soda glaze.

You will find some of these teapots in a new exhibition that I am part of at The Main Gallery in Redwood City titled “Stories: Selected Works by the Orchard Valley Ceramic Arts Guild”. Exhibition opens on February 24th and runs through April 3rd, 2016. Artist Reception is held on Saturday 27th from 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm. If you are in town and can make the reception, please join me at the after party gathering at Milagros Restaurant across the street immediately after the gallery closes. Public parking can be found at the Redwood City Library adjacent to the gallery.

160101_Teapot_SodaSalt1a 160102_Teapot_SodaSalt2b 160103_Teapot_SodaSalt3a 2016_AnagamaTeapot3_a 2016_AnagamaTeapot4_a 2016_SodaTeapot1_a 2016_SodaTeapot2_d