Thursday, August 27, 2009

Huh Min Ja 허민자

For 35 years Huh Min Ja has been a guiding light to contemporary ceramics on the island of Jeju. That is not to say that she hasn’t had her doubts about coming to what is now one of Korea’s top vacation spots. “I cried” she says of the moment when her new husband introduced her to the then poverty stricken and undeveloped island where he was seeking to make a career. Born and educated in Seoul, Huh Min Ja eventually made a complete transition and now shudders when she mentions the traffic and congestion in the nation’s capital. She has nurtured generations of ceramic artists at Jeju University where she teaches and she maintains an active studio in the landscaped compound next to her home.

Although no one in her family was an artist, she credits some of her artistry to her mother who she says was adept at all kinds of hand work, particularly sewing and embroidering. After finishing an undergraduate degree at Seoul National University, she received an MFA from Ewha Women’s University. Because the course of study at Ewha did not supply hands on experience in kiln firing, she worked in a pottery workshop in the ceramic town of Icheon south of Seoul to gain practical experience. She has always taught all her students at Jeju to make clay, formulate glazes, and fire kilns. Although they have sometimes commented on all the heavy labor, they also realize that they have a much better knowledge base than many other Korean clay students. The balance between teaching and maintaining a life as an independent artist is difficult but Huh Min Ja has sought to keep a fresh perspective by stepping out of her teaching role when needed. By spending a year studying in Kyoto she returned to Jeju with new eyes and changed her style to accommodate the influence of Jeju’s dramatic natural landscape.

The volcanic origin of Jeju is always evident in the black and gray lava everywhere at hand. Island residents speak of the three things they have in abundance; wind, rocks, and women. Both women and rocks figure prominently in Huh Min Ja’s sculptural work. Overt references to the columnar basalts of the seacoast and the rough texture of the lava clinkers underfoot are easy to see. The women in her work are most often representative of familial love and sometimes an expression of her Catholic faith. Huh Min Ja also produces functional ware often glazed with a combination of native clay, wood ash, and volcanic stone. Particularly noteworthy is the teaware which has a rough dignity suited to meditative sipping. A divergent style of work is the pure white porcelain which she throws and then has a noted calligrapher decorate in blue cobalt. All of her various types of work and her teaching furnish practical evidence of the vigor and dynamism with which she undertakes her creative life.


1993 M.F.A. in Ceramics, College of Design, Ewha Womans University, Seoul, SK

1984 Kyoto Art College, Kyoto, Japan

1967 B.F.A. in Applied Arts, College of Fine Art, Seoul National University, Seoul, SK


2006 The 12th Exhibition, Glory to God-On Earth Peace, Gana Art Center, Seoul, SK

2001 The 11th Exhibition, Together in Love, Continenetal Gallery, Sapporo, Japan 

1998 The 10th Exhibtion, Stones, Jeju Art Center, Jeju, SK 

1997 The 9th Exhibition, View Point: 97 Ceramics, Hyde Gallery at Grossmont Collge, California, U.S.A. 

1996 The 8th Exhibition, The Stone Image, Hansol Gallery, Jeju, SK 

1993 The 7th Exhibition, The Image of Jeju, Tho Art Space, Seoul, SK

1990 The 6th Exhibition, Ceramics in Living Space, Sejong Gallery, Jeju, SK

1985 The 5th Exhibition, Catholic Center, Jeju, SK

1984 The 4th Exhibition, Ceramic Lamp, Gallery Maronie, Kyoto, Japan

1981 The 3rd Exhibition, Shinsegye Gallery, Seoul, SK

1979 The 2nd Exhibition, KAL Hotel, Jeju, SK

1977 The 1st Exhibition, KAL Hotel, Jeju, SK


Ichon World Ceramic Center, Ichon, SK

Jeju Art Center, Jeju, SK

Changwon Patima Hospital, Changwon, SK

Art Museum of Jingdezhen University, Jingdezhen, China

Yixing Art Museum, Jiangsu, China

Trios Gallery, California, U.S.A.

Catholic Diocese of Kyoto, Kyoto, Japan

Present Professor of Jeju National University Department of Industrial Design


Address: #690-121,1744-1, Ara-dong, Jeju City, Jeju-do, South Korea

Tel: Office: +82(country code).(0)64.754.3690 Fax: +82.(0)64.755.3680 

       Studio: +82.(0)64.702.1003 Home: +82.(0)64.702.2651 C.P: +82.(0)11.690.2651














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