Reincarnation in Clay: Exploring Jinblossom Kim Plati's Artistic Journey from East to West

Jinblossom Kim Plati’s intricate ceramic works are amalgams, formed from the distinctive materials of her personal life, cultural heritage and artistic evolution. The centerpiece of her MFA installation comprises four large “coral” pieces in vibrant green and teal, each resting on a ceramic base of pastel blue, yellow, and pink hues. Two additional pieces—one in earthy brown, another in black adorned with white drips and speckles of bright red and yellow—rest on similar bases. Several of the bases take the form of the wooden structures used for bonsai and scholars' rocks. The rocks, a central theme in Jinblossom's work, resemble mountain landscapes in microcosm and invite multiple interpretations.

The installation background, also crafted from clay, sets the stage for a deeper exploration of Jinblossom's artistic choices and life philosophy. Influenced by her family's religious beliefs, especially Buddhism and the concept of reincarnation, her art reflects a journey of remembering her parents and rediscovering her cultural roots. Importantly, her art signifies the embrace of a new life in the U.S. following traumatic events, the clay serving as a therapeutic medium for the release of emotion. Th swirl motif, inspired by a memory of her mother’s skirt, embellishes her ceramic scholars’ rocks. Jinblossom perceives a profound connection between rocks and clay, as rocks undergo a transformation into clay, which, in turn, assumes another form as ceramic scholars’ rocks. She sees this metamorphosis as suggesting the concept of reincarnation, as well as the enduring presence of her parents’ lives in her own.

The essentially Victorian style of Jinblossom’s bases pays homage to William Morris and draws inspiration from the Zwinger Palace in Dresden. For the artist, the Victorian era signifies both the dawn of modernity in the West and a fresh chapter in her own journey in the U.S. Here, she has embraced new cultures while holding dear her Korean heritage. In her own words, "I hope that my creative act of crafting and combining the Eastern-influenced ceramic rock with the Western, Victorian-inspired base elevates the essence of my personal journey from East to West."

- Christy Sher

Artist Statement
As a ceramic artist, I am driven by the exploration of the relationship between scholar rocks and Victorian-inspired bases. My work seeks to capture the natural beauty of scholar rocks, while also elevating them through the creation of unique and stylized bases that showcase their true value. It is emblematic of my personal journey from Korea to the West, and my fascination with the ways in which cultures from both regions have met, mingled, and fused to create new forms of art and craft. Fond memories of my father washing scholar rocks with a radiant smile inspire my work. His stylized bases elevated the rocks, leaving an indelible impression. Now, crafting my own scholar rocks, I pay homage to his legacy. Through my art, I seek to inspire appreciation for the natural world's beauty and the rich cultural heritage shared by our global community. 

Jinblossom Kim Plati was born and raised in Seoul, South Korea. She received her BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute in Kansas City, and she is currently attending at the Ohio State University for her MFA and teaching assistant. She makes ceramic forms that explore the relationship of scholar rocks combine with the Victorian inspired bases. This investigation is emblematic of Jinblossom’s own personal journey from Korea to the west. After moving to the United States from South Korea, her interest in how cultures of the East and West have met, mingled, and fused to create new forms of art and craft. She has exhibited at Archie Bray Foundation (MT), Leeds-Voulkos Art Center (KC), and Urban Art Space (OH) among others.