YehRim Lee

Money Chairs

Oct 12th - Nov 5th, 2023

YehRim Lee was born in Seoul, Korea.  The way she interacts with her work is directly connected to her background in ceramics. She earned her BFA from Korea National University of Cultural Heritage (2013). She received her MFA in Ceramic Art at Alfred University (2017). She has shown in exhibitions nationally and internationally. Lee was a Resident Artist at The Clay Studio from 2017 - 2020. She now lives and works in Joshua Tree, California. 

In East Asian culture, it is common to convey theme through symbol instead of direct statement. For instance, the magpie bird on the garden stool symbolizes longevity; the peony flower, prosperity; and the pomegranate, fertility. But most interesting to me were the “money” symbols, not painted on the chair, but excised into the sculpture itself. The excisions resemble the holes in Chinese coins. In my work, I seek to bridge the East and the West. I thought it would be interesting to make a modern stool that was part sculptural and part functional, that combined Chinese iconography with Western directness. The western audience may not know the meaning the money symbols carved into the chair, but it is no coincidence the sculpture is green, the western symbol for wealth. I also titled the piece “Money Chair”, to emulate western directness. What further drew me to this iconography of wealth is that consumerism is often a theme in my work. Though colors and glaze, I explore luxury and decadence with surfaces that crystallize, facet, fragment, stylize, sharpen, and distort. I find a metaphor to my process in the obsessive repetitions of late-stage capitalism. While the highly-ornate decoration of the Garden Seat would make sense to the upper class in an earlier era, my response conveys a more modern sense of abundance through elaborate shape, dripping glaze, sheens, and functionality that is questioned by extravagant form.