Yoonjee Kwak makes sculptural vessels to represent human beings as iconic symbols from Korean culture. In Korea, when people talk about someone’s personality, they often use “vessel” as a metaphor of one’s spirit of tolerance. Yoonjee’s interactive conversation with the clay is vital to her process—she slowly builds up clay coils from the bottom, allowing her hand marks to remain on the surface. Through this process of building, memories of patience and time come into her pieces, and she is able to create a meaningful record of her practice.
Originally from South Korea, Yoonjee currently is a resident artist at Pottery Northwest in Seattle, WA after finishing her long-term residency at The Bray in Helena MT (2017-2019). Her works have been shown in a variety of national and international exhibitions including in Korea, Turkey, Italy etc. as well as many states in the USA. She earned her MFA in ceramics at the School for American Crafts at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in 2014 and her BFA in ceramics and glass at Hong-Ik University in Seoul, South Korea in 2012. She was a resident artist and taught ceramics classes at RIT from 2014– 2017. In 2020, she was one of the recipients of the James Renwick Alliance Chrysalis Award for emerging artist in ceramics as well as the Emerging Artist Award in Ceramics Monthly Magazine in 2016.