LAWRENCE — The Spencer Museum of Art has selected “Translated Vase,” a large-scale ceramic work by artist Yeesookyung, as the KU Common Work of Art for the 2020–2021 academic year. Although the University of Kansas’ Common Book program is paused because of COVID-19, the Common Work of Art will provide opportunities for shared object-based engagement with first-year students and the larger university community.
In keeping with the focus of recent KU Common Book and Common Work of Art selections related to current issues and events, “Translated Vase” fosters discussions of what it means to create, to repair and to transform.
“It is a sculpture that classes regularly engage with from a number of disciplinary, cultural and psychological perspectives,” Curator Kate Meyer said.
“Translated Vase” is 5 ½ feet tall and is composed of broken ceramic pieces that Yee gathered from the waste piles of Korean ceramicists. The pieces fit together to form a biomorphic shape, and the cracks are filled with gold. In Korean, the words crack and gold are homonyms, both called geum. Yee’s work invites the viewer to consider seemingly contradictory factors, such as transforming trash into art, and finding beauty in spots of weakness.
“Translated Vase” will be displayed in the Spencer Museum’s exhibition “Empire of Things” once the galleries reopen. Resources for expanding conversation about the KU Common Work of Art are available online and will continue to be updated throughout the year.
Instructors interested in incorporating the KU Common Work of Art and other Spencer Museum resources into their fall courses should contact Celka Straughn, the Spencer Museum’s deputy director for public practice, curatorial and research.
Image: Yeesookyung, “Translated Vase,” 2007, museum purchase: Helen Foresman Spencer Art Acquisition Fund, 2012.0033.