Interview with artist Jennie Jieun Lee
All images courtesy of artist
Tell us about the first time you smelled clay.
Late 70’s, downtown Manhattan. I remember it was a rainy night and I was in a dark pottery studio. In my mind’s eye, I remember making one thing and that was a mask- my mother’s face with embossed circular cheeks and triangle lips. It was low fire clay and eventually broke. We lost it in all our moves.
What artists inform your work?
I went to the V&A in London 2 years ago and the Simon Carroll exhibition seeped into my consciousness. When I began ceramics at the Museum School in the 90’s I got into Mary Frank’s ceramic work, which I still love today. At my show at Martos Gallery, all my glazes on the vessels were inspired by the opening scenes of Taxi Driver.
What is gained when your work is applied to apparel?
What essentially started as fired stone becomes diaphanous and tender.
What is lost?
How do you know when a work is complete?
Hard to say. I’ve been making these busts for the last year, a way to deal with a friend dying. I’m usually relocating an impression from within onto the material and when the clay or surface stops being receptive, well I guess then it’s over, at least for the day.
Does the same rule apply to the apparel?
I am usually collaborating with others for the apparel so either they or I will shoot specific details of the art and then use the best images for the fabrics.
For the Rachel Comey Collaboration, she was able to translate my glazes into digital prints and silkscreens for dresses as well as shearling for shoes and bags.
For The Posters Collaboration, I used close-ups of ceramic masks and plates I had made and Print All Over Me digitally printed them onto sweatshirts and tees.
What music do you listen to while working?
Dorothy Ashby, Piano jazz with Marianne McPartland, Jonathan Schwartz on the weekends, TigerBelly podcast, Reverberation Radio, KCRW The Treatment, Sinead O’Connor and Frank Ocean
Whats the latest book you read?
Montpelier Parade. The debut novel by my dear friend, Karl Geary.
If your work could be summed up in a song, what would it be?
Cosma Shiva by Nina Hagen