Daily Art Moment: Steven Young Lee

Image description: Jar with Dragon and Clouds, Steven Young Lee, porcelain, white slip, glaze, epoxy, steel, 40 x 58 x 10 inches. A large, wall-mounted installation of broken porcelain shards. The shards are a pale blue green in color and are arranged overlapping, some with their decorated surfaces facing outward, some showing the interior of the jar. The pieces float on the wall without visible means of support in a gentle crescent shape with each end raising slightly. At center, the two parts of the round rim are placed one atop the other. Large portions of broken coils undulate outward. Some are placed flat; others standing on their edges. At a distance, the shards appear to be a solid blue green but are delicately decorated in deeper hues of blue green showing details of dragon scales and the crazing of the surfaces. Some shards of the vessel have rough, bubbled surface that contrast with the smoother exterior views of the shards. The work is lit from above causing shadows to be cast below it.

Steven Young Lee describes how the coils of the large vessel of Jar with Dragon and Clouds came apart and the pot imploded in the kiln. Here the shards are put together in such a way to reveal both their exterior and interior surfaces. One can imagine how impeccable this vessel must have been before it came apart—even curvatures and delicate inlays are all visible, inspired by Korean Joseon dynasty vessels. What is also visible is the sand that stuck to the shards on the floor of the kiln, the breakages in the coil, and moments where Lee allowed the glaze to run and hang on the edges like stalactites. Whereas Lee often creates immaculately controlled vessels that he then purposefully makes vulnerable so that they give way in the kiln, Jar with Dragon and Clouds violently collapsed into complete deconstruction. The end result was an entirely new work of gestures, making visible the artist’s process, and as Lee states, “creating dissonance through harmony.”

Grace Kook-Anderson, The Arlene and Harold Schnitzer Curator of Northwest Art

Steven Young Lee (American, born 1975), Jar with Dragon and Clouds, 2016, porcelain, white slip, glaze, epoxy, steel. Museum Purchase: Funds provided by the Northwest Art Fund, 2019.58.1

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