Throughout his career, potter Lee In-chin has developed a distinctly Korean sensibility that highlights the hand of the craftsmen and the natural, often random effects of firing. Lee works solely with wood-fired kilns, emphasizing the natural quality of wood ash by sprinkling it onto surfaces which then melt and create glaze-like coatings. Born in Seoul and raised in Southern California, Lee received his earliest studio training at California State University, Fullerton, before returning to Korea to earn his BA and MFA degrees at Hongik University in Seoul, where he is currently a professor in the Ceramics and Glass department. Lee has also worked in major ceramic centers in Japan, China, and the United States, engaging in both studio work and teaching.
In the late 1980s, Lee was known for his rugged, dark reddish-brown stoneware inspired by works distinctive to Bizen, Japan, where he apprenticed under the master potter and Living National Treasure, Fujiwara Yu (1932–2001). In 2002, Lee turned to high-fired whitewares while working at Jingdezhen, China’s preeminent center of porcelain production. Six years later, he spent a month-long residency at the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University—the leading school of ceramic design and technology in the United States—where he created vessels with porcelain clay extracted from local sources.
Since 2002, his ceramics have been exhibited in Korea, China, Taiwan, France, England, as well as several cities in the United States. Outside Korea, his pieces are represented in the collections of many prominent museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; and the Victoria and Albert Museum, among others. Lee, who currently teaches in Seoul and but maintains a studio at Jingdezhen, represents an emerging generation of potters who develop innovative techniques by drawing from traditional resources and practices, and this approach, specifically rooted in the local, has had an enduring influence on future artists and makers.