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Ernie Kim


Covered Bowl

10.375 x 12.375 x 12.375 in. (26.353 x 31.433 x 31.433 cm)
Museum Permanent Collection

Ernie Kim’s Covered Bowl is a large stoneware vessel composed of a simple wheel-thrown bowl with a generous flange upon which the lid, with a softly hand-pulled loop handle, nestles comfortably. The deceptively simple shape serves as a canvas on which Kim has applied a stimulating array of gestural and calligraphic marks. Using wax resist, sgraffito, and incised lines combined with layers of white, blue, green, and magenta glaze, Kim’s depth of surface decoration is an energetic reference to abstract expressionism on a traditionally functional form.

Born in Manteca, California, in 1918, Kim’s initial aspirations were far removed from the art world, when he enrolled in a dentistry program at Los Angeles City College, where he studied from 1940 to 1942. When the United States entered World War Two, Kim served as a parachute lieutenant based in Europe from 1942 to 1947. He required occupational therapy after he returned, due to injuries sustained in combat. He took ceramics classes through the Veterans Administration, which set him on an entirely new course. He became a ceramics instructor in 1952 for the Palo Alto Unified School District, and later head of the ceramics department at the California School of Fine Arts in San Francisco. In 1962, he took a teaching position at the Richmond Art Center, where he remained, in a variety of roles, until he retired in 1982. Due to the extreme isolation Kim endured as a prisoner of war, he committed his life to community pursuits and, upon his death in 1997, the Richmond Art Center created the Ernie Kim Award to honor his contributions to craft media.

Ayla Murray

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