November 12-15, 2009
Pennsylvania Convention Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
SEY ARTNET coordinated the Korean guest artist program for the 2009 Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show (PMA Craft Show). Founded in 1977, the PMA Craft Show has been presented annually by the museum's Women's Committee and the Craft Show Committee, and is now regarded as one of the most prestigious craft events in the nation.
In 2001, the Show launched a guest artist program where some twenty artists from a foreign country were selected to participate. Countries that had been presented thus far include Japan, England, Ireland, Germany, Finland, Canada, Israel, and Korea was the gusest country for 2009.
The Korean guest artist program has been presented with the support of the Korean Craft Promotion Foundation (
For more information on the PMA Craft Show, please visit
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The 26 Korean artists showcasing their work at the Craft Show are comprised of the people from diverse ages and fields. Each artist’s work has a unique individuality, but at the same time, the group as a whole transmits distinctive characteristics of contemporary Korean crafts.
After visiting the studios of all 26 artists, we realized that most of them were in one-person practice and every stage of their work required manual labor. It thus seemed very important for an artist to secure a sufficient amount of time and discipline himself or herself to complete works in a timely manner.
The works of the artists, such as Ju-cheol Yun and Haecho Chung, are all about repetitions. Yun, famous for his Cheomjang (protruding molecule technique) ceramics, applies slip with a brush onto clay vessel more than a hundred times to achieve the molecule-covered surface [Image 1-1, 1-2, 1-3]. The Ottchil(Korean lacquer) master, Chung, also applies hundreds of layers of Ott (sap of the lacquer tree) onto a hemp body until he gets the right thickness [Image 2-1, 2-2]. Chung won the ‘Best of Korea’ award at the Show and his work has been purchased by the Women’s Committee of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Soungchuel Park starts every morning by making a metal cup with a serial number, and he is planning to continue this daily ritual until he turns 70 [Image 3-1, 3-2, 3-3].
There are some works that precision matters. The silversmith, Hyun-seok Sim, produces handmade cameras and jewelry that makes interesting contacts with human body [Image 4-1, 4-2, 4-3]. Oong-ki Kang’s work is a set of silver kettle and wine cups, made by battering on a lump of silver for as long as a year [Image 5-1, 5-2, 5-3]. Kang emphasizes that pots are the epitome of metalwork, embracing the principles of science and technology. He says, “Form is not made for beauty. The height of mouth, the height of the pot, the width of the mouth, the location of the handle, and the height of the pot cover must all be considered. Otherwise, water would spill out of the pot.” He received the RJ Hetherington Prize for Excellence in Metal Award at the show and his work is now a part of the Philadelphia Museum of Art collection. Hyewook Huh carefully draws geometric forms on graph paper and they are finally materialized as a glass sculpture [Image 6-1, 6-2, 6-3, 6-4].
The concerns for organic materials and environmentally friendly methods are found in some artists’ works. Choonsun Moon makes colorful jewelry with recycled plastic and cardboard [Image 7-1, 7-2, 7-3]. The fiber artist, Yeonsoon Chang’s sculpture is made of abaca dyed in natural indigo [Image 8-1, 8-2, 8-3, 8-4]. The rush weaver, Sung Nim Joun, maintains traditional Korean weaving materials and techniques, but her skillful hands and innovative mind bring an enormous step forward in the field of Korean basketry [Image 9-1, 9-2, 9-3, 9-4, 9-5]. The ceramist, In Chin Lee, favors wood-firing method because he believes that it follows the law of nature [Image 10-1, 10-2, 10-3, 10-4, 10-5]. Jangjibang, meaning Jang's Paper Shop, has been producing natural mulberry paper over two generations [Image 11-1, 11-2, 11-3, 11-4].