Yoonmi Nam Venerates the Insignificant with Her Ceramic Sculptures of Disposable Containers — Colossal

February 24, 2024 - Art



#Yoonmi Nam

February 23, 2024

Grace Ebert

a collection of celadon takeout containers on the floor

All photos by E.G. Schempf, © Yoonmi Nam, shared with permission

Most of us quickly dispose of late-night takeout evidence or the abruptly empty box from the cookies we polished off in a single sitting, but Yoonmi Nam preserves the remnants of her consumption in unforgiving ceramic.

The South Korean artist (previously) has spent the last few years collecting single-use containers like aluminum pans, egg cartons, and styrofoam cups that she slip casts, creating archeological sculptures of their interiors. “I am a collector of trash,” Nam says about her works, which put our relationship to consumerism and disposability front and center.

Glazed in celadon, the sculptures juxtapose the decidedly contemporary subject matter with the history of the medium, as the distinctive gray-green hue transformed ceramic production in Korea during the Goryeo dynasty (918–1392). For her ongoing solo show Generally Meant to be Discarded, Nam displays these stacks on soban, small dining tables traditional in Korea that sometimes double as altars. She explains:

I am deeply aware of the presence of objects that we handle, consume, display, and discard. I am drawn to them especially when they subtly suggest a sense of time that seems both temporary and lasting. There is truth and honesty in time, as all of us share the fate of impermanence. But the way we surround ourselves with collections of things, it is as if we feel a sense of permanence through these comforts and arrangements. In my work, I make images and forms that highlight everyday objects, spaces, events, and routines. While insignificant and mundane, they allow us to notice both the stillness and the passage of time.

Generally Meant to be Discarded is on view through February 24 at Studios Inc in Kansas City, Missouri. Find more from the artist on Instagram.


three stacks of celadon takeout containers on wooden pedestals

a stack of celadon takeout containers on a wooden pedestal alongside a crumpled sculpture of cups on a wooden pedestal

stacks of celadon takeout containers

a collection of celadon takeout containers on the floor

a collection of celadon takeout containers on the floor

stacks of celadon takeout containers on wooden pedestals

#Yoonmi Nam


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