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Unveiling the Artistry of Hee Joo Yang: A Journey Through Time, Space, and Clay

Unveiling the Artistry of Hee Joo Yang: A Journey Through Time, Space, and Clay

Hee Joo Yang, an artist who has carved a unique niche in the realm of ceramics and sculpture, opens up about her artistic journey, inspirations, and her unique approach to her craft.


Breathing Life into Clay

Hee Joo Yang’s journey with ceramics began during her undergraduate studies. Unlike the conventional tools of brushes and pencils, Yang found a sense of freedom and control in molding clay with her hands. This passion led her to pursue a Master’s degree at SUNY New Paltz, where she further explored the potential of clay as an artistic medium. She describes her work as organic and abstract, focusing on the invisible embodiments of emotions, memories, and experiences. She turns these abstract elements into visual objects through her hand-building skills and sensory repetition.

A Deep Dive into Hee Joo Yang's Background

Born in Manhattan, Kansas, and raised in Korea, Hee Joo Yang's artistic journey has been shaped by a blend of Western and Asian ethos. Her identity as a Korean woman, her experiences, and her interactions with unfamiliar spaces contribute to her artistic inspiration. Despite the societal pressures in Korea to follow a conventional academic path, Hee Joo chose to pursue her passion for ceramics. Her mother, a design major, played an instrumental role in her exposure to art from a young age. This early exposure sparked her interest and led her to choose ceramics as her major during her BFA.

An Artist Shaped by Time and Space

Yang's work is a reflection of her experiences and observations of time and space. She draws inspiration from the repetitive yet diverse nature of daily life. This influence is apparent in her abstract and organic sculptures where repetition and juxtaposition are key elements. Yang's artistry is not confined to a particular location; her studio, the place where she spends most of her time, serves as the main source of inspiration for her work.

Building Bridges with Art

Yang’s art is not just about creating visually appealing pieces; it's about communication, empathy, and healing. She believes in the power of art to connect people and open dialogues. A unique experience that shaped her artistry was her residency program at the Ohr-O’keefe Museum of Art. The relationships formed there and the inspiration drawn from the new environment have become valuable resources for her future works. Through critique, dialogue, and advice, she enriches her art and strengthens her ties with the art community.

Yang's Unique Approach to Art

Yang's art stands out for its focus on hand-building skills and sensory repetition. From temperature to touch, every sensory experience in her studio shapes her work. She gives form to invisible embodiments like emotions, memories, and experiences, turning these abstract elements into visual objects. Her work explores the circumstances surrounding her through objects, leading to a deeper understanding of herself. The process of creating her art is not just about molding clay but also about experiencing sensory repetitions such as temperature, sound, and touch.

Challenges and Overcoming Them

Every artist faces challenges, and Yang is no exception. Adapting to new environments and gaining technical proficiency with clay were significant hurdles for her. The lack of progression in her work during her initial days in Pittsburgh tested her resilience. However, she overcame these challenges with perseverance and dedication. She believes that the key to overcoming technical difficulties with clay is to create and fail repeatedly. Through this process, she continues to learn and improve. She also incorporates other mediums like sound and photography alongside clay to overcome creative hurdles.

Looking Forward

Despite the challenges faced, Yang remains dedicated to her craft. She continues to explore and push boundaries, using other mediums like sound and photography alongside clay. With a group exhibition lined up in Pittsburgh next year, Yang is determined to create more works and continue her exploration with ceramics in the future. She aims to advance the technology, aesthetics, and concept of her work through practice and dedication.

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