Sukjin Choi

Fermented foods- Kimchi, Soy sauce, Soybean paste- are typical in the Korean diet. Onggis are storage jars into which we put these foods, have accompanied our daily life since ancient times. Ten years ago, I had an opportunity to see a traditional potter making Onggis at an International Conference. He modeled it on a kick wheel using traditional wooden tools, the Dogae and Geungae. Surprisingly he made the huge jar in a short time. I was struck by his index finger, which had obviously been transformed from decades of hard work. But I could read his affection for the clay on his face. I immediately perceived the value of craftsmanship deeply and was impressed by his devotion to clay and to the process. Afterwards I went to an old potter's studio to learn traditional techniques from him. I am on my way to finding my identity through following this old potter's hands.



I have used inlay techniques, which are one of the Korean traditional skills. When I first looked at the inlayed Celadon in the National Museum of Korea, I did not get any inspiration from its surface. However, as time passed, I realized that the inlayed surface decoration beautifully harmonized with the qualities of the Celadon. The Celadon was shining with muted jade green. On the surface, I saw brown and white lines through the transparent glazing. The inlaying and the glazing coalesced into one body, as if the drawing was painted on the surface. To apply the traditional inlay techniques in my own style, I made a variety of color slips that gave the inlay the quality of a colored line. The color of the slip filled the channels of the incised surface, creating a contrast and harmony with the body of the ceramic piece. Sometimes, I use my left hand instead of my right hand in order to express more natural lines. The inlaying takes a long time. Through this process I have learned tenacity, patience and inner concentration. I treat the surface of the ceramic piece as if it is a drawing paper; my drawings are my languages, and my inlays are my own voice.