Artist: Michelle Im
Michelle Im, NEW YORK
When I first started out in ceramics, I was immediately attracted to porcelain and the results you can get in cone 10 gas firings. As I experimented with different clay bodies, I learned more about where ceramic traditions come from. It was a gradual process, starting with high fire clay and glaze and then eventually to low-fire materials. When I got into Delftware and Italian Maiolica work, I fell in love with earthenware. It surprised me that you could get such stunning results with a clay body I typically looked upon as a material for beginners. Earthenware is primitive, ubiquitous, and the high-iron content stains everything. But, when it is dressed and manipulated, it possesses a hidden power of elegance and maturity, like porcelain. These traditions that aimed to elevate the material by emulating highly valued porcelain-ware aesthetics is what inspires my work. There is a sense of game and strategy involved when you work with earthenware. If the inherent color and surface quality are not what you’d like to showcase, the challenge becomes how to transform it into something that doesn’t bear the typical associations.
As I switched to an earthenware clay body, my process naturally became more handbuilding focused. The two felt like they were interconnected. Handbuilding relates to the idea of using a perceivably low-skilled forming method to make something refined. It’s a relatively intuitive process, and it lets clay do what it does best- be molded by hand. I use handbuilding to get close to a uniform shape for a classic form and then finesse the irregularities. The imprints left behind give a texture that adds to the liveliness of my decorations. Finding a place between intention and spontaneity is a constant part of the process.
Korean Buncheong ware was one of my first sources of inspiration to use slip decoration. I identify with the whimsy, immediacy, and humor contained in its slip gestures. I strive to emanate this playful energy through colorful patterns and imagery. I cover my earthenware with white slip that I carve through, making repetitive marks that create movement within the surface. The uncovering of the slip reveals a subtle hint about its material identity. I draw inspiration from animals and often pair them with motifs that are deliberately absurd or out of the ordinary. I want to express my personal curiosity in the natural world by mixing and matching elements that do not normally go together. With my decorative materials, I look to find balance utilizing contemporary underglazes and traditionally pigmented glazes. I think about how to create harmony between the stillness of opaque textures and loose transparencies.
My hope is that every component of my process culminates in ceramic objects that bring spirituality and warmth to acts of everyday rituals.
S O L O E X H I B I T I O N S
2022 TBD Featured Artist Exhibition. Charlie Cummings Gallery. Gainesville, Florida 2020 RATXCHICKS. Choplet Gallery. Brooklyn, New York
E X H I B I T I O N S
2022 Plant Pots. Charlie Cummings Gallery. Gainesville, Florida
2021 Americano Invitational 2021. ClayAKAR. Iowa City, Iowa
2021 Holiday Show. Saltstone Ceramics. Seattle, Washington
2021 Cup: The Intimate Object XVII. Charlie Cummings Gallery. Gainesville, Florida 2021 Small Favors. The Clay Studio. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
2021 Sarah’s Spirit Squad. Saltstone Ceramics. Seattle, Washington
2020 Cursed. Dusty Friends. Brooklyn, New York
2020 Fall Clay Jam 2020. Charlie Cummings Gallery. Gainesville, Florida
2020 Ceramics Pop Up. The Royal Society of American Art. Brooklyn, New York 2019 2nd Annual Asian American Ceramicists Fair. Wing on Wo & Co. Manhattan, New York 2019 Cup: The Intimate Object XV. Charlie Cummings Gallery. Gainesville, Florida 2019 Material Mugs IV: Cobalt. Companion Gallery. Humboldt, Tennessee 2019 2nd Biennial International Ceramic Mug Competition. Mojo Coffee Gallery. Minneapolis, Minnesota
2019 11th Annual Cup Show- Form and Function. Amelia Center Gallery. Panama City, Florida 2019 Mug Madness. Saltstone Ceramics. Seattle, Washington
2019 Art of Clay. North Carolina Pottery Center. Seagrove, North Carolina 2019 Sip: A Ceramic Cup Show. Savannah Clay Community. Savannah, Georgia 2019 Small & Mighty. Clay Studio of Missoula. Missoula, Montana
2018 Functionfest. Clay Art Center of New Orleans. New Orleans, Lousiana 2017 Crafting Resistance. Spoke Art Gallery. Manhattan, New York
2016 Art in Clay IV: Up Against the Wall. Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition. Brooklyn, New York 2016 Artist Exhibition. Jane Hartsook Gallery. Greenwich House Pottery. Manhattan, New York 2015 Artist Exhibition. Jane Hartsook Gallery. Greenwich House Pottery. Manhattan, New York
A W A R D S & P U B L I C A T I O N S
2021 Spotlight September 2021. Ceramics Monthly
2015 Madeline Sadin Award. Greenwich House Pottery. Manhattan, New York
A R T R E L A T E D E X P E R I E N C E
2021 Ceramics Instructor. Bklyn Clay. Brooklyn, New York
2020 Ceramics Instructor. Choplet Ceramics Studio. Brooklyn, New York 2013-2017 After School Arts Instructor. MESA Charter High School. Brooklyn, New York
E D U C A T I O N
2004-2008 State University of New York at Buffalo. Buffalo, New York
BA Biological Sciences. Minor in Studio Art