Joo Young (Grace) Han is one of those extremely talented young women, a rising star in Canadian ceramics. Raised in South Korea, Han graduated with her BFA from Dankook University where she studied traditional Korean ceramics. There she watched the master potter, Joon Hoon Park, while making hundreds of Korean tea bowls, sambal, a day. For seven years, Han worked to perfect her ceramic skills including the making of the large jars for fermented vegetables, the Onngi. In 2011, Han moved to the Canadian prairies. The image above is a still from an upcoming CBC special on Han. In 2016, Han graduated with an MFA from the School of Art, University of Manitoba. There, for two years, she worked tirelessly in her studio asking herself many, many questions. Am I Korean? Am I Canadian? Where is my voice? Her thesis exhibition focused on those binaries as does the photo above.
The Manitoba Arts Council recognized Han’s artistic excellence by awarding her their major grant of $30,000 this past week. It is rare for a ceramic artist to achieve such recognition so early in their career. MAC not the only one, however! Han will be part of the Banff’s Centre’s Clay Revival Residency from June 3-July 7 and she will also have a solo exhibition at Medalta. Well done, Grace.
For a more detailed discussion of Han’s struggle with her identity and the male world of Korean ceramics, see my article in the current issue of New Ceramics, ‘Joo Young Han. One Path, Two Identities, pp 13-15 (2/18).
Richard Selfridge arrived in Canada in 1969 to pursue a PhD in Political Science. A native of Seattle Washington, he first studied at Washington State University leaving the United States just before completing his PhD dissertation in Political Philosophy. Selfridge taught at the University of Alberta for four years. He became a Canadian citizen in 1974.
Richard Selfridge never intended to become a potter. But life has a way of throwing curve balls at each of us. “Happy Accidents” was what Paul Soldner used to call them. In between his studies, Richard met Carol and his interest in ceramics began. In 1973 he took his first pottery lessons with David Green, one of the individuals behind the formation and an instructor for the Edmonton Potters Guild. These early classes were followed by specialized
studies at the Banff Center with Wayne Ngan, Walter Keeler, Tom Coleman and Janice Tchalenko, amongst others. A year later Richard built his first electric kiln with a single chamber downdraft gas kiln quickly following in 1975. He was hooked on clay! Carol and Richard are both interested in clay, its form and its functionality. At the same time, they are passionate about experimenting with different firing temperatures and glaze effects. The couple built a two chamber cross draft gas and wood-fired salt chamber kiln in 1980 while continuing to fire their majolica in the electric kiln. In 2001, they built a wood-fired coffin kiln. Since 1974 their work has been a joyful collaboration.
The duo taught at the Student’s Union at the University of Alberta in the 1970s, later teaching for the Extension Division of the University of Alberta. Carol was a high school art teacher in Vancouver and Edmonton from 1969-74. Her interest in the figure and drawing have been furthered by workshops at Red Deer College, The Banff Center, and the University of Alberta. In addition to more than 250 international exhibitions, Richard and Carol have also taught workshops across Canada and internationally while still finding time to host two annual studio sales per year since 1974. The pair received major grants from the Alberta Foundation for the Arts and the Edmonton Arts Council. They are nothing short of prolific in their output and the generosity with which they share their knowledge of firing effects and glazing. Their work was part of the prestigious Claridge Collection.