Steven Young Lee, "Gourd Vases with Dodos", 2018, porcelain, cobalt pigment, glaze, 18 x 19 x 10"


American, b. 1975, Chicago, IL
lives and works in Helena, MT

Steven Young Lee has been the resident artist director of the Archie Bray Foundation for the Ceramic Arts in Helena, Montana since 2006. In 2004-05, he lectured and taught at numerous universities throughout China as part of a one-year cultural and educational exchange in Jingdezhen, Shanghai and Beijing. In 2005-6 he was a visiting professor at Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design in Vancouver, B.C.

Lee has lectured extensively in North America and Asia. In the Fall of 2016 he was one of four artists featured as part of the Renwick Invitational at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C. In March 2013 he participated on a panel, “Americans in the Porcelain City,” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Also in 2013, he was one of several international artists invited to participate in “New Blue and White,” an exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, MA that featured contemporary artists working in the blue-and-white tradition of ceramic production. In 2019 he will have a solo exhibition at the Portland Art Museum.

He is represented by the Duane Reed Gallery, Ferrin Contemporary and The Archie Bray Foundation Gallery. His work has been collected by the Smithsonian Museum, The Newark Museum, the Daum Museum of Contemporary Art, the Four Seasons Hotel in Seoul, Korea, as well as many private and public collections.

Lee received his BFA and MFA in Ceramics from Alfred University. Originally from Chicago, he lives in Helena with his wife, Lisa and their two children Gavin and Florence.


This piece comprises three panels, each containing 100 hand-thrown porcelain cups in a ten-by-ten grid. It was originally created for installation at the Jane Hartsook Gallery in New York, NY. The cups are decorated with motifs appropriated from various cultures — Chinese, Korean, French, Dutch, English, etc. In the creation of all 300 cups, the patterns evolved from their original source throughout the process, paralleling the organic development of the visual language of historical pattern as it evolved with ethnic influence.
The title of the piece references three genres of decoration in ceramics — blue and white, red and white, and white on white, while also isolating the representation of color i.e. red, white, and blue to associate with contemporary connotations. In addition, the proportion of the panels correlates to a large color field painting that allows the various motifs to create a single homogenous color representation.
Lee chose to use cups as a vehicle for the decoration because of their status as an archetypal form. And as one of the more intimate ceramic forms, they are relegated to be a small but integral part of the structure of the installation. To reinforce the place of the cup in the whole, the cups are not sold individually, their meaning plays a more expanded role as part of a larger whole.

Janet Koplos reviewed a recent show of Lee’s at Greenwich House Pottery in Ceramics Art and Perception. Click here to read the article.




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