Eun-Ha Paek at HB381 in New York, NY

At the height of the pandemic I immersed myself in a full time schedule of Zoom courses. I was thrilled to learn through hands-on ceramic courses, as well as art history courses and lectures. I was in my home studio, thrilled to be soaking up anything and everything interesting I could learn.

One course at Greenwich House Pottery in New York City was called Alternative Methods, which was taught by Eun-Ha Paek. I loved it, and Eun-Ha. Since then, I’ve followed Eun-Ha’s work, and was delighted to see that she was having a solo show at the new HB381 gallery in my neighborhood.

In a fortunate stroke of serendipity, just as I was about to leave, in walked Eun-Ha along with a group of Greenwich House students and the relatively new director Fabio Fernandez. I knew Fabio from his involvement with Harvard Ceramics, another program which I consistently took courses with during the height of the pandemic. How fun to meet people I knew, but didn’t know, in person! They invited me to stay as Eun-Ha walked around the exhibition explaining her work.

Gallery view
Eun-Ha Paek at her show Amalgam

“In Amalgam, Paek presents a series of ceramic sculptures, accompanied by a video installation. Created by hand as well as through 3D printing technology, the sculptures give physical form to the artist’s inner narratives and personal history, while exploring broader themes of identity and human experience.” (HB381)

Fancy Pants, 2022
Handbuilt and 3D printed glazed stoneware
30” x 10.5” x 8.5 in
Standing Dude with Plates, 2022
Glazed stoneware
33” x 15.25 “ x 9.5 in
Lazy Server, 2022
Glazed stoneware
12” x 10” x 5.5 in
Cactus Head Brown, 2022
Glazed stoneware
17” x 13” x 11 in
Cactus Head Green, 2022
Glazed stoneware
8.5” x 10.5” x 7 in
Sitting Dudes with Bowls, 2022
Glazed stoneware
16.5” x 26” x 7 in
Left: Queen of the May #1, 2022
Glazed stoneware
12. 75” x 9” x 1.25 in

Right: Queen of the May #2, 2022
Glazed stoneware
11.75” x 9” x 1.25 in

“Paek’s work, across media, investigates questions of identity through storytelling. Hints of recognizable references and motifs are present in her figures, but this host of characters is the unique product of a visual language developed to give shape to the artist’s internal dialogue. Poodles, for example, are a recurring theme: “I use poodles to talk about what it can be like to be a woman without referencing the female form. Poodles are the most objectified of dogs. Their coats are cut to be decorative and conform to the owner’s desires. I see that as a metaphor for objectification, notions of servitude, and not being taken seriously. Combining traditional forms and imagery with these tongue-in-cheek poodles allows me to allude to these experiences. Using our preconceptions of pottery, I want to combine the familiar and strange to create objects that seem like remnants of a dream, something from the subconscious, rather than overt statements.” Frequently employing the blue and white hues typically associated with Delftware, Paek plays with ideas of assimilation and appropriation, while pieces like Queen of the May #1—a sculptural reinterpretation of an earlier animated music video—deal with conformity and the dynamics of female relationships.” (HB381)

Poodle Tower of Babble, 2018-2019
Handbuilt and 3D printed glazed stoneware
53.75” x 13. 5” x 13. 5 in

“Poodle Tower of Babble, modeled after a Dutch tulipière, is an amalgam of the traditional and the experimental, both aesthetically and in its construction. The two lower levels are hand built; these were then 3D scanned and each successive layer was printed in diminishing scale to achieve the tiered effect. The end result is unrecognizable from the original—approaching nothing but a dissolved spire at the very top—suggesting the mutability of memory.” (HB381)

3D printed top portion of the tower
Detail
Stoneware base of tower
Detail

In Eun-Ha’s course, we discussed 3D printing, among many topics. I had yet to fall for 3D ceramic printing, but Eun-Ha’s thoughtful incorporation, while mixed with handbuilding, really appeals to me.

Poodlymorf Bust, 2022
Handbuilt and 3D printed glazed stoneware
10.25” x 5. 25” x 5.25 in
Mongmong Lassie Container, 2022
Handbuilt and 3D printed glazed stoneware, epoxy
12” x 6.5 “ x 4.5 in

“Born in Seoul, Korea in 1974, Eun-Ha Paek currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. Paek received a BFA in Film/Animation/Video from the Rhode Island School of Design, where she has also been a guest lecturer. Her work has been exhibited throughout the United States and internationally, and she is the recipient of several awards and grants including the Windgate Scholarship and Rudy Autio Grant from the Archie Bray Foundation. Paek’s animated films have screened in the Guggenheim Museum, Sundance Film Festival, and venues around the world. She has been a guest lecturer at Fashion Institute of Technology, a visiting critic at Maryland Institute College of Art, and she currently serves on the faculty at Parsons School of Design, The New School.” (HB381)

The exhibition is open through November 11, 2022.

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