A Brief Interview with Ahrong Kim

Ahrong Kim. “It’s Raining,” 2017. Porcelain, stoneware, luster, metal, resin. 10.5 x 6 x 15.5 in.Editor’s Note: Ahrong Kim is the recipient of Studio Potter’s “Emerging Voices” merit award given to a participating artist in CraftBoston Holiday, the Society of Arts and Crafts’ annual fair. Kim is a New York–based artist born in Korea. She received her BFA in Ceramics from Kon Kuk University in Korea in 2008 and her MFA from Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) in 2013. SP interviewed Kim via e-mail, and has edited questions and answers for clarity.

Studio Potter: Tell us about your childhood and your path to becoming an artist?

Ahrong Kim: My greatest source of inspiration is my grandmother. She was the personal seamstress for the vice president of Korea before the outbreak of the Korean War. She was well known for her ability to produce sophisticated clothes and for her attention to detail and flawless stitchery. Growing up beside her, I watched her, equipped only with her hands and a sewing machine, gracefully transform fabrics of every texture and color into elegant garments,.

I can still recall the musical hum of my grandmother’s sewing machine while I played—scribbling on paper, coloring the walls with waxy crayons, and making abstract sculptures with rubber clay. We would take long walks together through picturesque landscapes of my hometown. At the top of a hill, we would sit and look at the village below; its vibrant yellows, reds, and blues changed with the sunrise and sunset. Those textures and colors inspired an essential part of my work.

My dream was to follow in her footsteps and become a fashion designer. As a child, I dressed my dolls in outfits that I stitched together from discarded socks and other arbitrary fabrics. I went as far as taking costume design courses during college and attending sewing classes during vacations. I pursued a double major in fashion design and ceramics and found that I was more attracted to clay than fabrics because of the versatility of the material. My love for needlework still resonates in my work through layering ceramic slabs detailed with stitching. This technique is reminiscent of traditional Korean patchwork, woven from various fabrics like a puzzle.

These vibrant and intricate surfaces are the manifestation of my deepest and most intimate memories and a cherished relationship with my grandmother, who died several years ago.

SP: What other artists inspire you and influence your artwork?