화요일, 4월 16, 2024
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Buncheong Ceramics Enchants Denver

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Special Lecture by Lee Ae-ryung, Director of the Gwangju National Museum

The Buncheong ceramics exhibition at the Denver Art Museum, which is set to last for two years, recently featured a seminar hosted by Lee Ae-ryung, the Director of the Gwangju National Museum, who was specially invited from Korea. After earning a master’s degree in history and art history from Ewha Womans University, Lee has worked at the National Museum of Korea for over 30 years since 1994, deeply involving herself in the study and excavation of Buncheong ceramics. Notably, she participated in the excavation of the Hakbong-ri site in Gyeryong Mountain and published the first academic survey report on the findings, establishing herself as a leading figure in the study of Buncheong ceramics.

During her visit, Lee gave lectures at the Denver Art Museum and the University of Denver on the 11th and 12th. The first day’s lecture was delivered in Korean for Korean Studies majors and Korean art enthusiasts, followed by a tour of the exhibition. The next day, she continued her lecture in English with simultaneous translation. Attendees who had registered in advance gained a deep understanding of the beauty of Korean Buncheong ceramics through Lee’s explanations.

In her lectures, Lee emphasized that Buncheong ceramics were highly popular from the late Goryeo to the early Joseon Dynasty, noting that systematic management and production of Buncheong ceramics were established during King Sejong’s reign. She highlighted a story about King Sejong instructing craftsmen to engrave their names on the bottoms of the ceramics, illustrating the importance placed on the quality of pottery even then.

After the lecture, Lee led attendees to a special exhibition of Buncheong ceramics on the fifth floor’s Asia section. Here, she easily explained the Buncheong techniques and characteristics across different periods, as well as how these have been integrated into the works of contemporary artists. Following the viewing, Lee received warm applause and shared her thoughts, expressing gratitude for the keen interest from the Denver audience, far from Korea.

In a deep conversation after the lecture, Lee took the time to discuss the importance of preserving cultural heritage in the digital age, highlight notable works from the exhibition, outline the future direction of the Gwangju National Museum, and share her personal experiences at the Denver Art Museum.

Q: How do you see the future of museums and cultural heritage preservation in the digital age?
A: Lee Ae-ryung: In the digital age, we live in an information flood. However, there are not many places that can provide a clear understanding and standards for Korean culture. I believe museums can play that role. Museums are not just places to exhibit artifacts from the past; they are important spaces where we can explore and announce our identity. Therefore, the preservation of museums and cultural heritage becomes even more important in the digital age.

Q: Are there any works in the exhibition that you find particularly attractive or unique? Could you share the stories behind these works?
A: Among the Buncheong ceramics, the ‘elephant’ pottery is particularly unique and attractive. This piece symbolizes cultural diversity and the breadth of interpretation. Despite having cultural standards we know, different regions and societies accept and reinterpret these to create new stories. Watching visitors interpret this work in various ways according to different cultural backgrounds is fascinating.

Q: Does the Gwangju National Museum have any upcoming projects or collaborations that you’re looking forward to?
A: The Gwangju National Museum specializes in ceramics. We plan to open a Ceramics Culture Hall that encompasses Asia in 2025. This will allow us to introduce the diverse ceramic works we hold to more people. The possibilities for ceramic-related projects and collaborations are endless, and we look forward to what the future holds.

Q: Were there any works you saw at the Denver Art Museum that made an impression on you?
A: The Native American art pieces at the Denver Art Museum were particularly impressive. I was able to see various perspectives and evolving forms of art, which inspired me greatly. Additionally, the works capturing Colorado’s sunsets were moving, bringing me closer to the region’s nature and culture. This visit has been an important occasion for cultural exchange between Korea, Denver, and the wider world, reminding us once again of the precious assets we can share through cultural diversity and reinterpretation.

By Hayne Kang

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