Exhibition of new ceramic sculptures by artist Ahrong Kim on view at Kristen Lorello

Art Daily
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Installation view. Photo: Lance Brewer.
Installation view. Photo: Lance Brewer.

NEW YORK, NY.- The gallery is presenting a solo exhibition of new ceramic sculptures by Brooklyn-based artist Ahrong Kim. This is Kim’s first exhibition at the gallery. It includes pedestal-based sculptures and an accompanying wall installation made of multiple parts. Kim’s works explore the expressive female through a style that embraces maximalism and various technical approaches to the craft of ceramics.

In each sculpture, portions of the female head and body combine with other representational elements to create the suggestion of a loose narrative or overall feeling. Various juxtapositions of body and object relate surreal scenes. In Bittersweet, 2020 the upper part of a woman’s face sits between a gilded stand and a billowing cloud-like form into which various types of drug store candy and a pair of upturned legs enter. Amorphous forms and porcelain floral bouquets hover above the heads and bodies of Kim’s women. They suggest thoughts and wanderings of the mind, dreams, anxieties, and emotional states.

Separate to the pedestal-based sculptures, the exhibition includes a wall installation made of multiple cast sculptures in the form of the head of Mickey Mouse. All-over patterns ranging from floral decoration to comic-strip and cartoon logos cover the surfaces of the sculptures from edge to edge. These works introduce concepts of pop, animation, and the collectible into the exhibition, while relating psychological notions of the alter ego, or alternately, feelings of warmth and childhood play.

Each of the sculptures in the exhibition is executed in a variety of handmade techniques. These include throwing, hand building, the use of plaster molds, slip casting, and multiple firings, as well as under glazing and the application of gold luster. The artist hand-paints polychrome rectangular grids onto the surfaces of many of the works. The patterns are inspired by traditional Korean ‘Jogakbo’ patchwork used in the creation of domestic wrapping cloths. As a child, the artist absorbed this tradition from her grandmother, who was a seamstress to the vice president of South Korea. As a graduate student at RISD, she conducted further research on ‘Jogakbo’ and other histories of textile patterns. Knowledge of these designs, along with personal lived experiences, and daily inspiration from contemporary social media platforms, continue to influence her work.

Ahrong Kim was born in Gunsan-si, Jeonbuk, South Korea in 1985 and lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. She received a BFA in Ceramics from Kon Kuk University in South Korea in 2008 and an MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2013. Her works have been exhibited at the Korea Cultural Center, Washington, DC, 2018, The Clay Studio, Philadelphia, PA, 2017, George Billis Gallery, New York, NY, 2016-17, Strohl Art Center, Chautauqua Institution, Chautauqua, NY, 2019, and the Society for Contemporary Craft, Pittsburgh, PA, 2018, among other venues. She has completed residencies at Guldagergaard, Copenhagen, Denmark, 2016, the Office for the Arts at Harvard University, Boston, MA, 2013-14, and Ceramic, Seoul, Korea, 2011. From 2014-2018 she was an artist in residence at The Clay Studio, Philadelphia, PA, where she was also an instructor in ceramic sculpture. Kim is the recipient of an Excellence in Clay award from the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show, Philadelphia, PA, 2018 and received the honor of Best in Show during the 7th Workhouse Clay International, Workhouse Art Center, Loton, VA, 2017. Her works are included in the collections of the Fuller Craft Museum, Brockton, MA, the Betsy Ross House, Philadelphia, PA, and the Jeong-eup City Museum of Art, Jeonbuk, Korea, among others.