Heesoo Lee’s work explores the vulnerability of the human condition through the metaphor of the natural world. Her artistic language, formed by observations of material, nature, and place, engages with themes of identity, connection, and time. In describing subtle variations of light, texture, color, and shadow as they exist in nature, Lee is, fundamentally, illuminating a range human emotions and the humbling reality of being a feeling person in a vast and changeable world.
Her sculptural vessels are created from porcelain and white stoneware and, after construction, are painted with layer upon layer of underglaze. Her painting medium of pigmented clay is so light that it often requires thirty or more layers to achieve the magnificent depth and realism for which she has become renown, but the analogy to painting ends in the kiln. During firing, the layers of underglaze can react with one another and change colors; at higher temperatures, yellows, reds and oranges want to evaporate out. As a result, Lee’s handling of the ceramic material, though intricate and precise, is also marked by an intuitive use of imagery and surface treatments that offer reward through risk-taking. Lee’s work resonates with feeling, reflecting on human moments of transcendence marked by both strength and fragility as fleeting encounters with the world are made profoundly permanent.