Onggi Jar with Flat-topped Lid 2017 Onggi clay, ash glaze, finger drawn swirling decoration Reduction firing 69(ø)X83(h)cm

OH Hyangjong is known internationally for making the authentic Korean food storing jars known as “onggi”. He is a rare maker as after receiving his Bachelor of Art Degree in ceramics he made the decision to become an onggi potter instead of pursuing a career as a contemporary ceramicist. His first encounter with onggi came when he went on a field trip to an onggi making village with his fellow university students. He states that he was mesmerized by the sheer fullness of the stacked brown pots. After graduating university he voluntarily offered to apprentice in an onggi pottery. Again because such potteries practiced division of labor he had to work his way up in order to learn to make pots. His enthusiasm enabled him to learn skills quickly and in no time he was making them. He then enrolled to graduate school and he researched on Korean onggi wares. His training in onggi potteries and his research on them for his Master of Art Degree enabled him to become one of the most prominent onggi makers in Korea today.

The onggi ware is made from a special brown clay — coarse and textured. It is Korea’s most representative type of ceramics, one that has been used for centuries with no class distinction as it was used by all because of its direct connection with the Korean diet. It is a type of food storing jar most apt for the Korean fermented food — from sauces to pickling vegetables and seafood. Furthermore the Korean ancestors were wise in that every region of the country cultivated its own shape based on climate conditions. They are comparable to the modern day refrigerator as air circulates through the clay particles preserving food for a long period of time.

The technique practiced by Oh is based on the south-western region of Korea where large slabs, instead of coils, are piled on top of one another to build an elongated and wide jar shape. Oh remains true to the authentic method of making and in doing so he preserves the historical lineage. There are only few makers today who remain true to the traditional way — from making to the firing process. Oh’s 2001 visit to the USA touring five different universities to conduct demonstration-workshops exposed him to the world. Since then he has participated in many international events.

OH Hyangjong

  • 1993MFA in Ceramics, Dankook University
  • 1989BFA in Ceramics, Gwangju University
4 Solo Exhibitions
  • 2006 Oh Hyangjong Onggi Exhibition, Nanum Gallery, Insa-dong, Seoul
Main Exhibitions
  • 2013FireFest 2013, North Carolina, USA
  • 2011Aberystwyth International Ceramics Festival, Wales, UK
  • 2005Mashiko International Ceramics Workshop, Tochigi, Japan
  • Gwangju Design Biennale, Special Exhibition, Gwangju, Jeollanam Province
  • 2001Onggi Tour Workshop, 5 Universities, USA