Mi-yeon Kwon's 1000 Bowl Project

Feeling Forms in Memory

Dinner at Sat, Nov 18th, 2017

Open Hours: 7-10 pm

To participate in DMK-1000 CLICK HERE

Korean Ceramicist and painter Mi-Yeon Kwon’s latest work, “A THOUSAND BOWL PROJECT” is intended as a spiritual journey. It consists of the creation of a series of 1000 carefully hand formed bowls, of which is intended to mark steps in a ritual journey, each bowl is like a meditation that creates that leads the viewer towards a feeling of tranquility, well being, and their own personal happiness. It is the very element of repetition which suggests walking on a journey, like contemplating rocks along the road that one travels in search of some personally important destination. But in traveling this road one discovers the journey is, in a profound way, a meaningful destination in itself. Each step on the journey, each bowl in the series, is like stone along the road which is the means for creating a beautiful memory. By Robert Kamezura

Each work maintains the same basic shape but differs in slight but significant details. Each combines the feeling of organic, rock like forms with the feeling of the clay being manipulated by the human hand to form a balance between the human search for meaning and the natural world. Mi-yeon speaks of forming the clay with the hands as a ‘spiritual and tactile’ process. She states, “Working the clay with the fingers and hands molding its soft shapes before firing is like creating oneself, making manifest elements buried in one’s memories, of discovering what I am in a human and most elemental way.”


Each bowl must have a “perfectly formed center” without which the bowl will be a failure as any further manipulation will only enforce the distorted balance. Creating this perfect center involves just the correct blend of mixing water and clay, and the manner of manipulating it on the throw wheel. These are skills which take years to develop. “Any further manipulation of the base and top, known as the “foot” and the “lip” on an imperfect center will only make the bowl more imperfect. Not only will the spiritual balance of the piece be lost but it also will crack and fall apart in the firing. It is as if nature is trying to tell us be perfect or what you are will not be lasting.”


“Indeed sometimes I think I read the story of my life, the years of childhood in Korea and my embarkation and life in America as things which I read in the clay as I work it. The mix of earth, water, atmosphere, and fire seems to combine all the elements. Each must be perfectly matched by the artist's intention. It is a process of discovering the essence of my soul through the act of creating the bowl, of putting aside petty concerns and daily cares and exploring only the essence one’s inner self. In a very real sense the bowl becomes apart of me.”


The Thousand Bowls Project is meant to be elegant in shape and form, visually beautiful in their simplicity but they are essentially receptacles, containers which the viewer is meant to fill with personal memories and thoughts. One might say the bowls are devices for meditation, literally “touchstones” for self reflection.


The quality of Korean art has been described as art of “Simple elegance, spontaneity and an appreciation for the purity of nature.” This description perfectly embodies the goals of Mi-Yeon Kwon’s art.


In Oriental tradition the home often has works of art. The intention is that as one goes about one’s daily life the work of art, with its qualities of balance and tranquility, is a point in the home which stimulates tranquil reflections and evocative memories. “I mean my art mainly for homes, for personal reflection on a daily basis. Some of my work finds its way into museums but it is touching people in their most personal environments that I find most meaningful.”


Mi-Yeon Kwon's exhibits her paintings that reflect many of the same inspiration as her ceramics. On a thinly painted background superimposed drip like forms which suggest forms of the body, arms, legs, breasts, heads, hands, fingers,and these seem laid out against a vast openness. Her paintings suggest life creating itself out of the elements, a oneness of humanness and the non-organic universe. They speak of the life force melting with, and indeed a product of, the forces of nature. Her paintings suggest a kind of joyful dance between the human and the natural world, a ritualistic invocation of the transforming powers of life.


By Robert Kamezura

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