All hand built and wheel thrown by her, the first collection made in Seoul during 2017-18 is a mixture of vessels and abstract forms titled “Landscape”, “Stratum”, “Artifact” and “Clay Drawing.”
The Vessel series stems from historical pottery and contemporary sculptures. Ritual wares and vases from the Joseon dynasty (1392 -1910) and the ancient Korean earthenwares (1 BC - 8th century) are her main inspirations. At the same time, her contemporary forms express the essence of clay; she accentuates the softness and fluidity through subtle forms and unglazes the exterior to reveal the raw texture of porcelain and stoneware.
The Landscape series originates from the uninhibited terrain of intuition and the inherent characteristics of clay. When rolled out as a sheet, it acts like a fabric where undulations can be formed without control or refinement. There is no carving or stacking, rather it is simply a record of time and the behavior of the material itself. The irregular surfaces naturally create uneven glaze colors and patterns in the firing, leaving the end result as a surprising one-of-a-kind landscape piece.
The series called Artifact was named after she encountered an ancient ceramic work at a museum entitled, Unknown Function. The majority of ancient findings is given specific naming and relevance to history. However, this title frees the viewer to imagine the what-ifs and to interpret rather than register the work as a mere functional object. Similarly, Yoon-Young Hur’s pieces can be read as artifacts of the mind; representations of undefined and disparate thoughts. Artifacts are often broken fragments of a larger whole where parts have been effaced and destroyed before they become precious and delicate. Such fragility is consistent with ceramics, where handling the objects with extreme care is relevant at every stage of the process. Through this series, she preserves and records the most vulnerable state of clay: bone dry and low-fired. These pieces are chalky and brittle, prone to break even with a subtle touch, and to dissolve if encountered with moisture which reminds us of the impermanence of natural materials.
The Stratum series is about tactility; made out of thin slabs of paperclay, which are a mixture of newspaper, porcelain and alumina, the fiber from paper is revealed as it is. She avoids refinement/sanding. Rather she accentuates its inherent and unique quality; the paper gives reinforcement to the clay allowing it to act like paper so it can be folded and torn without significant cracking. Though molds are used to create the concave form, each layer is never quite the same due to the act of taring. The clay also varies in thickness due to hand rolling rather than machine rolling. Thus, the pieces become unique individual objects resulting in an imperfect stack.
Clay Drawings are studies in composition, comprised of the previously described works. A new set of spatial relationships are formed among the disparate pieces just by placing them within a frame. It is rooted in an intuitive process with a simple set of rules: a total of 6 objects in a 2 x 3 layout, a tall vessel as a tower on the top left, a landscape piece on the bottom right, and the rest are selected from small and low forms. Here, Yoon-Young sees the elements in Clay Drawings as potential places of habitation: when scaled up, one can be inside, under, above, around and next to the clay bodies.