Born in South Korea, Jeong Ju Lee graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology and earned MFA in Metals and Jewelry Design in 2007. She is currently a resident artist and teacher at Penland School of Crafts, instructing such renowned artists as Wendell Castle.
She creates three dimensional, sculptural jewelry using chasing and repousse techniques combined with non-traditional materials. Drawing attention to the organic inspiration of the form with the sparkle of the natural gem stones, the work is animated through the coexistence of function and aesthetics equally. Jeong Ju also designs and sculpts furniture. Gravers Lane Gallery is fortunate to have three of Lee’s chairs, made entirely of copper, copper wire, and steel. The pieces are at once visually arresting and inviting. Their unique and intriguing forms beckon the viewer to examine and sit. The work is equally animated through the coexistence of function and aesthetics.
Her work was most recently included in the Spring Craft Weekends held in Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery, Washington D.C. in 2011 and 2012. Additionally, Lee was featured at Indulge Jewelry Marketplace at Bellevue Arts Museum, as well as at the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show in 2010. She was the recipient of the prestigious Future Furniture Design Award by Interior Design magazine in 2006, as well as Best in Show at the Fine Craft Show in Memorial Art Gallery, Rochester, NY, in 2008.
I am interested in sculptural furniture and jewelry forms, which combine natural shapes with human elements. I intend to explore the relationship of my work as it relates to the human body and its spatial surroundings. The work can be a vehicle that not only reflects my thoughts and feelings, but also engages people in a tactile manner.
Natural phenomena, such as a dune, a desert, a wave, even the human body are a part of the reservoir of my inspiration. My own translation of these forms modifies how I am impressed by them. The inspirations may be interwoven with metals as visual elements: scale, mass, contour, shape, line, surface texture, and color. However, the material influences my creative process and helps to render the work in spontaneous ways.
Furniture can be understood as an art form that not only accommodates the primary function of the object but also accompanies secondary functions that can be discovered within our daily life. The knowledge of materials and techniques allow me to have new ways to express myself through the form. Above all, I would like to examine the dialogue between these two art forms: furniture and sculpture. I want to explore how the object is related to our surroundings, and haw far its alternative functions interact with people. The works will challenge the delicate matter of defining furniture with is conceived as both furniture and sculpture simultaneously.
When jewelry adds vitality to the contour of the human body there is the potential to explore its definition and meaning. A piece of jewelry can be seen as a wearable sculpture, by understanding its adherence to the body. This jewelry should be viewed as integrally connected with its wearer, and perceived as an intimate and sensuous part of the body. Its form develops three-dimensionality, as it seamlessly links the human body with material.
A State of Wonder, brooch, 4 x 3½ x 1 inches, sterling silver, carnelian, jasper
Flowing Shoulder Pin, 8 x 4¾ x1½ inches, sterling silver, agate, sadonyx
Portrait # 1, brooch, 4½ x 4½ x 1½ inches, sterling silver, jasper, black garnet
Portrait # 2, brooch, 3½x 5½x 2 inches, sterling silver, jasper, black garnet
In Gestation, chair, 47 "x 26" x 24", copper and mild steel
Black Specula, brooch, 3½ x 2½ x ½ inches, sterling silver, jasper, onyx
Present, brooch, 2½ x 2½ x ¾ inches , oxidized sterling silver, jasper