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[Herald Interview] Ceramicist Suh Dong-hee's sculptures embody Christian spirituality

Suh hopes to build a small chapel for her pieces

"Four Living Creatures -- Calf (Revelation 4)" is on display at Suh's home gallery in Seoul. (Park Yuna/The Korea Herald)

The sunlight coming through the window provides natural lighting at ceramicist Suh Dong-hee's home gallery.

“I used to change the works on display every year, but since the pandemic has limited people's visits (to the gallery), I have left these works out for a while. This is 'The Lily of the Valleys' series that I began in 2020,” Suh, 76, told The Korea Herald during a recent interview at her home gallery in Gwangjin-gu, Seoul.

Suh is professor emeritus of ceramic art and design at the College of Art and Design, Konkuk University, where she has taught since 1977. She received Master of Fine Arts degrees from both Seoul National University and the University of Kansas. She earned a doctoral degree from the University of Missouri.

Ceramicist Suh Dong-hee (Courtesy of the artist)
Ceramicist Suh Dong-hee (Courtesy of the artist)

“It may be hard to imagine now, but it was quite difficult for a young female student to study abroad in the 1970s. Thankfully, I was selected for a Fulbright grant and was able to study in the States,” Suh said, recalling how she had wanted to go abroad after graduating from Seoul National University, but did not know where to start.

As a Christian, her sculptural works embody Christianity and are inspired by the Bible. Her new series, “The Lily of the Valleys,” reflects what she has felt reading in the Bible, and each work on display shows a chapter of the Bible that moved her. She was a member of a choir at Youngnak Church in Seoul for 15 years, she said.

"The Lily of the Valleys -- Grow Up (Ephesian 4:15)" is on display at Suh's home gallery in Seoul. (Park Yuna/The Korea Herald)

The sculpture titled “The Lily of the Valleys -- Grow Up (Ephesian 4:15)” looks like a loaf of bread cut into slices, or perhaps a stairway to heaven with a lily on top. “The Lily of the Valleys -- Eternal Pleasures (Psalms 16:11)” seemingly depicts several tree branches holding up a lily.

“In a dark valley, there is a lily in full bloom,” Suh said on the sculptural works.

Every single work has its own story. “Brilliant Clothes (Matthew 17)” was created more than 30 years ago when she was a doctoral student in Missouri. She recalled Missouri as a “peaceful place” where she could focus on creating art.

“Brilliant Clothes (Matthew 17)” by Suh Dong-hee (courtesy of the artist)
“Brilliant Clothes (Matthew 17)” by Suh Dong-hee (courtesy of the artist)

Suh is now looking for a place to house her life's work. She pictures the place as a small prayer hall holding her art.

“I am waiting for an opportunity to find a place for my pieces. Someday I hope to meet a sponsor who would help me realize my dream. I am praying to God for my dream,” she said.

"The Lily of the Valleys -- Eternal Pleasure (Psalms 16;11)" is on display at Suh's home gallery in Seoul. (Park Yuna/The Korea Herald)



By Park Yuna (yunapark@heraldcorp.com)
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