It was love at first sight for me with Rami Kim’s ceramic works of art. I gasped as I caught a glimpse of blue polkda dot ladies from across the room and ran over to have a look. They were even better up close! I surveyed a spread of totem-like floating heads stacked upon each other, ring cones and planters with tiny hidden faces, and abstract lady blobs decorated in colorful sprinkles. Each piece was more peculiar and delightful than the last. I had never seen anything like it, and I couldn’t get enough!
As an award-winning animator, Rami draws on her background to bring her evocative, character-driven pieces to life. She hand-sculpts and hand-paints each piece inspired by organic shapes, nature, feelings, and people. Her work ranges from functional objects like planters, dishes and mugs, to whimsical objects and sculptures for the home.
I dropped in to Rami’s Glendale studio to catch the artist in action and pick her brain about who these people are and how she dreams up these magical creations.
With a background in animation, especially stop-motion, how do you think this informs and translates to your ceramic work?
After years of working in the digital world of animation, I went back to graduate school so I can teach at the college level institution. At that time, that was something I could picture myself doing for a long time. For my thesis, and some other fun school projects, I got to work on a couple of short films in stop motion animation. I made small head sculptures for my puppet to use in my films, and they eventually informed little girl figurines, and the girl figurines later informed the girl face pots. And the girl face pots informed another lady sculpture. I am still in the process of informing and translating into another work. I believe that the lady sculpture will inform another painting soon...etc. It is really a nice rotation. Super interesting and exciting to see this happening. One day, I would want to go back to animation and try to animate these characters. It will be so much fun.
A woman's face is a recurring theme in your work. Do you have a specific person in mind when making these? Do they represent you?
Although a lot of people think that the ladies I draw look like me, I have no specific person in mind when designing / making the faces. I am just drawn to these characters. Their melancholy poetic faces. I can say that most of them come from my imagination, but I believe that they can represent some people I know, or people I've seen or just anybody living in this modern world.
Are there any artists who have inspired you along the way?
There are a lot of artists that inspired me, but lately, I am inspired by strong female artists with their own voice. To name a few, Agnes Martin, Georgia O'keeffe, Kiki Smith, Beatrice Wood, Louise Bourgeois, and Claire Loder.
Can you describe your typical creative process? Any interesting rituals?
I usually have some images in mind that I want to make already. Those images just come to me, then I try to capture or remember the images by doing a quick sketches in pen, or watercolors. Exploring the shapes or images can also lead to other interesting ideas.
As mama to your adorable maltese, Gus, I'm surprised your work has featured many cats, but no dogs. Any particular reason? (Can dog lovers look forward to canines in your work anytime soon?)
I love sculpting the animal figurines, both cats and dogs as I am an animal lover. And I've made quite many dog figurines in the past. However, I've always enjoyed drawing and making the cats better because their movement and the arc of their body is just more interesting to look at. What can I say. It's just more fun to make/ draw them!
Does being in LA influence or inspire you in any way? If so, how?
Being in LA has definitely influenced me a lot in many ways. I love that LA is such a big city. I can choose to be more isolated if I want, or I can easily be in a group of people that I connect. There are so many beautiful places to visit for inspirations you need, and you can easily spot a cool cactus or succulents near you that you can daydream about planting in your own pot.
For fun, complete the statements.
Right now I'm obsessed with: watermelons
I can never have too many: succulents
I would never be caught dead: on stage or in karaoke.
People would be surprised to know I: have a family living in Australia.
Best album(s) of all-time: This is the hardest question out of all. I would probably say Good News For People Who Love Bad News by Modest Mouse. It reminds me of good memories.
The best trip I ever took was: a small town named San Pancho, Nayarit Mexico where helped me to learn living a slow life can be beautiful.
I'm dying to visit: Oaxaca, Mexico City, and Korea in the fall.