YehRim Lee: Dopamine Dressing is on view at the University of Michigan Museum of Art, Ann Arbor
December 2022 – August 2023
In Dopamine Dressing, YehRim Lee (South Korea, born 1989) positions colorful clay and metal sculptures on a complex structure of her own design to create a joyful, immersive environment. At the same time, her work plays with notions of decadence. She repeatedly refires her clay sculptures, introducing a new glaze each time until the surfaces begin to warp and crack, approaching collapse, suggesting that the dopamine bursts that come from sensual pleasure or excessive consumption perhaps provide only temporary relief from the cares of the world.
Lee’s work explores the contemporary human condition using decorative clay techniques (coiling, sculpting glaze, incising, and layering multiple colors) acquired through traditional training. She grew up in a family that made Korean onggi ware, an iron-glazed brown pottery used for storing and fermenting food. She also studied ceramic making in Jingdezhen, China, the “porcelain city” that produced much of the high-quality blue and white ware for global trade between the sixteenth and the nineteenth centuries. However, Lee seeks to expose the materiality and the processes hidden by the smooth surfaces and precise decorations of historic porcelain ware. Her work shows how contemporary ceramic artists critically engage the form, the practice, and the history of ceramic art.
This is YehRim Lee’s first museum exhibition in the United States.
Text by Natsu Oyobe, Curator of Asian Art
Have you heard of the fashion trend called “dopamine dressing”? Psychologists have shown that dressing in bright colors releases neurotransmitters that create feelings of pleasure and reward. Clothing designers used this concept to battle the doldrums of the pandemic. Can vibrant colors, varied textures, and expressive movement in art also enhance mood? I created these works to jolt the viewer into a positive mindset through chromotherapy. I also want to investigate how art and joy have been linked through history, especially in ceramics, which so often have served as canvases for the most striking and lasting colors.YehRim Lee
University of Michigan Museum of Art
525 S State ST
Ann Arbor, MI 48109