Large Wood-Fired Vessel by Young Mi Kim
15 1/2″ high x 21″ diameter
A wood burning kiln is the oldest method of firing clay. Preparing the kiln is a days-long and often communal operation, with potters taking turns adding fuel to the fire continuously until the kiln reaches an adequate temperature, then adding more wood in order to sustain the fire. Given the effort involved, wood firing doesn’t happen with great frequency. Potters look forward to the opportunity with joy and anticipation. Then, alchemy happens. Wood ash floats through the air, landing on the surface of the clay and melting into a glaze; each piece that emerges is unique. Of course, the larger and thinner the vessel, the riskier it is to fire it this way. The potter never knows if her work will survive intact, or what it will look like once it is removed from the kiln.
Young Mi Kim builds her vessels by hand, forming coils which she works into a desired thickness, adding level upon level and with a meditative patience sculpting each piece into an organic shape. The finished work has a biomorphic presence akin to plants and sea creatures. This open vessel could be a barnacle or dried flower pod. The ash-glazed surface gives the sculpture an ancient appearance, as of something unearthed after a long burial. It is the only one of its kind.
Young Mi Kim is a South Korean ceramicist who works and teaches in Woodstock, New York. Young Mi writes, “In essence, each layer marks time and space. It is my attempt to live in grace: like an open vessel, empty and yet full.”