Bonnie Powers and Jeffrey Levin, owners of the multi-faceted Poet and/the Bench lifestyle store and jewelry atelier space at 11 Throckmorton Ave., are showcasing rising ceramic star Michelle Im of RatxChicks Ceramics in their space. The exhibition is entitled: RAD (Refuge in Delight)
Why RatxChicks? It’s a play on words for the unexpected pairing of things normally out of sync, especially animals, and which bring an approachable absurdity to her objects. Michelle’s highly technical forms have historical and cultural references (from her upbringing in South Korea, from living and working in New York) and her approach to the time-consuming decorations imbue her work with a wacky, whimsical aesthetic with equal parts humor and respect.
“Using humor in my art allows me to process the struggle and pain that often comes along with migration or adopting a new cultural identity,” she told us.
Growing up in South Korea with an uncle who made pottery influenced by the blue and white hues of porcelain from China (ceramics in the style of Dutch delftware, which was itself made to mimic Chinese porcelain), she embraced this lineage in her art while also researching the historic tradition of maiolica, an Italian tin-glazing technique of elaborately painted ceramics.
This delightful collection includes mugs (each a work of art), pigeon vases (Michelle encounters these creatures in New York and looks to find their beauty and empathize with them), 2-sun jar (inspired by moon jars), tea-light candle holder, fabulous butter dishes (Korean food typically lacks butter and Michelle became fascinated with the French use) and a golf trophy (celebrating the year of the rabbit).
Learn more about Michelle’s inspirations in our Conversations with an Artist: Michelle Im of RatxChicks
The mugs, vases, butter dishes and vessels are super covetable and it takes time and technique to get more of them!
Explore the collection of RatxChicks ceramics in our shop here.Afar Magazine: “I feel like there’s a big technical side to ceramics that really grabs my interest. I’m always experimenting with glaze chemistry, and with different ways to get color and texture.” The New Yorker’s focus on quality and individuality in her work makes for exquisitely detailed surfaces that belie the irreverence of unexpected pairings like dinosaurs and cherries, whales and flowers, and tigers and slices of cake. “I want to make every single piece take my time and really put in and fill in the whole surface area with decoration, which is what Italian maiolica is about,” the artist says. “I don’t want it to be about mass production, but about art and storytelling. I wanted to make things that seem more human.”