Mima Weissmann Recipient 2012 - 2013: Joon Park

Artist Statement

The Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) was the longest ruling Confucian dynasty in Korea, but it was also the last dynasty in Korean history. During that time, Korean potters produced simple yet unique ceramics vessels that embodied strict neo-Confucian values. Some of these vessels included bowls with a V-shaped profile called Sa-bal, voluptuous liquid bottles (Mae-beong) and large porcelain moon jars (Baekja-daeho). These objects were important contributions to Asian art history.

During the Japanese invasion in 1592, most able-bodied Korean potters were kidnapped and taken to Japan, along with many Korean ceramics wares such as the sa-bal. When Japanese warriors re-purposed Joseon’s sa-bal into precious tea bowls, a transformation of cultural value and social organization took place. The dislocation of many skilled Korean potters resulted in the fall of Korean pottery and the rise of Japanese pottery, which is linked to the Japanese economy’s expansion from the early 17th century through to the 19th century. As a result of exporting porcelain ceramics wares, which were invented and perfected by many naturalized Korean potters, Japan amassed a great wealth and further expanded their cultural influences throughout Europe. The devastating aspects of this history merged the simple and elegant appearance of Joseon pottery objects with an undercurrent of new associations. As an international student studying in the United States, I have always been intrigued by the value differences that appear between cultures, and the transformations of perspective due to cultural differences and relocation.

In the past, ideas and messages traveled in linear routes with time delays due to limited technology. In our era of advanced technological societies, people share ideas and experiences digitally in real time, and the concept of a point of entry or exit in terms of data representation is almost non-existent. However cultural values persist and play a substantial role in contemporary societies The non-hierarchical and sporadic arrangement in my ceramics field array
Usually, a pedestal is an auxiliary base used to elevate the status of an art object or to differentiate it from its surrounding. My goal in experimenting with various pedestal and ceramic object arrangements is to blur the distinction between high and low culture and to create new interactions between objects and space. For me, the process of seeking new visual possibilities and language helps me to understand today's diverse, decentralized, and rhizomatic societies.

Creating the ceramics and pedestals with different technologies and materials evokes a sense of travel and highlights cultural transfusion, transformation, and dislocation. Transforming the typical function or orientation of materials and engaging them in eclectic non-standard uses with ceramics objects embodies my attempt to converge contemporary Duchampian ideology with Joseon ceramics aesthetics. The merging and collisions of these juxtapositions resonates with my experience and reflects my efforts to create a new ceramics language that embraces hybrid cultural expression.

With Mima Weissmann fellowship, I intend to further explore my interest in developoning contemporary ceramics language with Joseon ceramics aesthetics and to develop my skills and knowledge with a variety of resources that the Harvard ceramics program has to offer


Joon Park is an artist who makes sculptural ceramics. He graduated in 2012 from Boston College, with a Bachelor Arts degree.