Yoonmi Nam: Among Other Things

A birds eye photograph of many ceramic objects, all the same shape as plastic containers and glazed in green.

Yoonmi Nam, Keeping, 2022-23. Slip-cast porcelain with celadon glaze, dimensions variable. Courtesy of the artist. 

Dates

April 18, 2024 – June 21, 2024

Location

UB CFA Gallery
First Floor

Description

Yoonmi Nam’s work is a study in observation and objects. She deconstructs, venerates, and contemplates “everyday” vessels from takeout containers to cardboard boxes, constructing still lifes and abstract pieces. Through observation, these objects that we routinely handle, display, and discard take on a second life, one that prompts us to consider things that we have been conditioned to ignore. The pieces are durational, layered over time, suggesting something both fleeting and eternal. As living beings, humans are impermanent. Nam argues that by surrounding ourselves with a collection of things, we are able to feel a sense of permanence through these arrangements. While our cultural artifacts give us comfort, products like Styrofoam, plastic packaging, and Amazon boxes, though smartly designed with specific functions, are also structured to be discarded. This contradiction is central to Yoonmi’s work, and the arrangements of her objects reference Korean history and value, as seen in nineteenth-century 책거리 (chaekgeori) painting, translated as still lifes of “books and things”. Though initially focused on books, and the promotion of Korea as a learned, bibliophilic society, chaekgeori broadly speak to value and veneration of objects that society has deemed meaningful. Turning cardboard and Tyvek into abstract sculpture, and takeout boxes into celadon glazed ceramics, Yoonmi deconstructs objects we know well, using them as templates for pressure printing and moulds for casting. Her work asks us how we might re-think value, for objects that are meant to be impermanent.  

Artist Bios

Yoonmi Nam is an artist born in Seoul, South Korea, who has studied in Korea, Canada, Japan, and the United States. She is interested in the observation and depiction of everyday objects and occurrences, especially when they subtly suggest contradictions: a perception of time that feels both temporary and lasting and a sense of place that feels both familiar and foreign. Experiences of living in disparate cultures with different people and their histories allowed her to notice what often is unobserved in one’s own familiar spaces. She works in traditional printmaking processes such as mokuhanga (Japanese-style water-based woodblock printing) and lithography to make imagery as well as explore other materials such as clay, glass, and paper to make three-dimensional still lifes. Yoonmi has shown her work in over 25 solo exhibitions and 200 group exhibitions both nationally and internationally. She is a professor of printmaking at the University of Kansas. 

Credits

Curated by Anna Wager, UB Art Galleries Curator of Exhibitions.