ARTIST INTERVIEW: Nancy Kwon
Company: Nancy Kwon
Artist: Nancy Kwon
Nancy Kwon is an L.A.-based ceramicist, bringing her work to the Craft Fair for the first time this December. Formally trained in Japanese pottery, Nancy Kwon incorporates and reinterprets motifs from ancient ceramic forms, while drawing her inspiration from history of the craft.
The Echo Park Craft Fair is celebrating our 10 year anniversary this Holiday, 2019. Can you speak to how long you’ve been doing the Fair and how the EPCF community has contributed to the evolution of your work and business?
I recently moved back to Los Angeles after living in New York City for the last five years. This will be my first time doing EPCF and I felt it would be a nice way to introduce myself to the city. In NYC I had a wonderfully supportive community of artists which helped my work grow and evolve. I am thrilled to be joining EPCF at this special moment for the Fair and to be a part of this community.
Please tell us about the current work you will featuring this Holiday and speak a bit to how you/your work as evolved over the last decade?
My work has always been in response to the history of ceramics throughout the world, and in particular, Korean ceramics because of my background. I will be showing a collection of work that has come together from the last five or so years, but also new work that has developed from the few months I’ve been here in Los Angeles.
I have been thinking about death and burial traditions and ceramic objects that were created for the afterlife. In Korea, these were often miniatures of everyday objects — miniature plates and bowls, animal and human figurines, etc. These objects evoke a sense of nurture and tenderness as well as a sense of practicality — the dead also need to eat and have some forms of entertainment. In this vein, I will be featuring offering plates, sculptural vessels, tea ware, as well as a collection of ceramic pillows/headrests.
The ethics of production are on our minds a lot recently – questions of sustainability, fair labor, location, and artistic integrity. How do these concepts come into play in your craft and your business? What choices do you make that take into account these ideas?
Packaging material is something I am thinking about because of the amount that is needed for shipping my work. I try to reuse as much as I can, and try to use as little disposable material as possible. I am in the process of replacing plastic bubble wrap with a paper cushioning that is also reusable. It would be ideal to eventually replace all packaging material to something reusable. I also try to hand deliver when possible, especially for local orders. I also recycle all of the ceramic raw material I go through — there is always inevitable waste when making something, but in ceramics all that waste can be used and reincorporated into future pieces.
Can you speak a bit to your process? What inspires your work? What techniques do you use to produce your designs? What is the history behind those techniques, and does that inform how you utilize them in your process?
Pottery is one of the oldest human inventions and the basic process is essentially unchanged, other than the modern tools and equipment we have available now. In this way, I feel connected to objects made millennia ago and like to put myself in the mindset of a translator: reinterpreting objects and ideas that were created thousands of years ago by mostly anonymous or forgotten craftspersons. I try to figure out their intentions and convey the message they were sending.
What is your underlying philosophy/core vision for your work? And what impact do you hope your creative work will have on your community?
I often think about the function and value of art because of the nature of my work and because I would like to avoid making meaningless objects. Tolstoy’s definition of “universal art” is how I try to approach when making something — that art should aim to be relevant to everyone and that the thoughts and feelings expressed are intelligible and comprehensible. That it does not restrict itself to a particular audience, and therefore becoming obscure and incomprehensible to those outside that audience. That it is not just the expression of one individual person’s emotions, and it is not just the production of pleasing objects, but it is a means of union among people.
Art should be a bridge across eras, cultures, and lifetimes — a kind of immortality. That is the ultimate goal for me.