Yuki Nyhan was born in Tokyo, Japan and lived in Saitama Prefecture until her family moved to the United States in 1968. Growing up in a Japanese household, she developed an appreciation for pottery, which led her to her first ceramics class at the Art Institute of Chicago when she was 13. We are pleased to show her work alongside Stephen Mickey’s at KOBO Gallery (at Higo).
Briefly, how would you describe yourself and your work?
My work is very quiet. I don’t necessarily think of myself as a quiet person, but I like stillness when I work. I want people to take the time and pick it up to view and feel it. From this, I hope the view can feel some of what I feel in the making.
How did you become a studio potter?
I grew up in a house where everyone made visual art or crafts in one form or another. It was a part of our lives. Being Japanese, I appreciated the personal nature of pottery and wanted to make it myself. The first chance I had to take art classes outside of school, I took ceramics. My siblings opted for 2D work. It seems clay was always in my soul. Stephen [Mickey], my teacher decades ago at the Evanston Art Center in Illinois, was very good at pushing the fledglings out of the classroom nest and urging them to start their own studios. I was one of those who learned to fly from him, and trial and error.
You work mostly in porcelain. What is distinctive about this material? What do you enjoy about using it?
I love the smoothness and delicate fluidity of the material. Yet, it is very strong and durable. These qualities are important because I carve and alter the forms, reflecting the undulating forms from nature.
What brings you the most joy in your work?
When I am making something and I feel like the clay and my hands are working in concert, it is the most peaceful feeling. It’s meditative and very in the moment.
If you could only use 3 words to describe your work, what would they be?
Quiet, soft, detailed.