Michelle Im (b. Atlanta, GA) is a Korean-American ceramic artist based in Queens, NY. She is an award recipient of the Teaching Artist Cohort, Center for Craft (2023); Emerging Artist Cohort, American Craft Council (2022); and Ceramics Monthly Emerging Artist (2022). Her residencies and fellowships include Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts (Guest Artist, 2023); Penland School of Craft (Distinguished Fellowship, 2023); and Archie Bray Foundation for the Ceramic Arts (Visiting Artist, 2022). Im has exhibited at the Northern Clay Center, Minneapolis, MN (2023); Friends Artspace, Arlington, VA (2022); Swivel Gallery, Brooklyn, NY (2023); Strada, New York, NY (2023); Jane Hartsook Gallery, New York, NY (2023); and Wing on Wo & Co, New York, NY (2019). She holds a BA in Biological Sciences & Art from the University of Buffalo, SUNY and she is a faculty member at Greenwich House Pottery.
"Through surface decoration, I explore ideological tensions that I experienced growing up in both the United States and South Korea. I create intricate patterns in my ceramics to marry diametrically opposed systems of culture- individualism and collectivism. Approaching my work with humor allows me to process these tensions I experience and create a space to resolve inner conflict. My decorative process responds to the absurd feeling of living between two value systems. I use word play and familiar commodities to configure patterns to evoke a sense of silliness, weaving tension into a harmonious composition.
My work represents a playful reinterpretation of the Maiolica tradition where earthenware was used to mimic highly valued Chinese porcelain-ware. Reclaiming this technique, I question the role ceramics had in reproducing colonial power through the absorption of other cultures. By altering classical forms and recontextualizing Maiolica-ware, my work disconnects from the cycle of recapitulating symbols of hierarchy and instead celebrates humanity at present. Tuning into the malleability of clay, I form vessels by hand that carry personal stories. Playfully taking the 'lowly' earthenware material and mimicking the more exalted porcelain is analogous to the way I pair disparate themes in the surface painting."