A kitchen table, countertop, or cluttered desk are likely places where you come across a work by a South Korean artist Yoonmi Nam. With ceramic sculptures and sparse lithographs, Nam’s work evokes “an omnipresent but constantly changing still life” that shows the ubiquitous everyday objects in more permanent forms. A deep hollow for a bouquet carves a stack of porcelain take-away containers, minimal prints show a leafy twig resting in a fast-food cup, and spread sketchbooks are covered with graph paper inserts that look perforated and leave frayed ends and stray lines.
Nams subjects, whether disposable containers or notebooks with cracked lids, always have a limited lifespan, a recurring theme that connects each of the works with questions of volatility and value. The artist works in a statement:
I am drawn to man-made spaces and objects that we surround ourselves with, especially when they subtly suggest a contradicting sense of time that appears to be both temporary and permanent. In the arranged flower pictures, the flowers, once cut from the roots, only have a short remaining lifespan. They will wither and die quickly, but before they do they are elegantly and elaborately arranged, as if time stood still for them. The containers they contain are disposable items like a yogurt pot, styrofoam take-out box, and an instant noodle bowl. These disposable objects and cut flowers enter into a dialogue that speaks of transience and permanence.
Nam has some ceramic pieces and lithographs available at Paradigm Gallery in Philadelphia, and some of their new box-inspired sculptures are part of 2021 Kansas City flat file + digital fileuntil October 14th in Kansas City Art Institute. You can also explore a larger selection of their works on Instagram.
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