Biography

Ara Koh (b. Seoul, South Korea; lives and works in Washington, DC) received her BFA in Ceramics and Glass from Hongik University, Seoul, in 2018, and was an exchange student at California State University, Long Beach, in 2016. Koh graduated with an MFA in Ceramic Art at New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University in 2020. Her works are installations claiming space across a variety of materials, particularly clay.

Koh’s work has been exhibited in numerous museums and galleries, including the Phillips Collection, Washington, DC; Archie Bray Foundation, Helena, MT; and Korea Culture Center, Washington, DC. Koh has received numerous awards, including the Minister of Foreign Affairs Honor by the Korean government. Her works have been collected by Alfred Ceramic Art Museum, Daekyo Culture Foundation, Winell Corporation in Korea, and many private collections.

Artist statement

I speak Korean, English, and clay. My studio practice is a form of translation. Working with clay is a vehicle for memory, honesty, reflection. I translate the invisible and the amorphous into something visible and solid. A balance between polarities; light and heavy, dense and loose, ephemeral and concrete.

There is room for awe and even for childhood trauma, fading or reliving. My sculpture encapsulates the dialogue of internal memories and external landscapes. Making is reliving fading traumatic memory as a landscape painting.

Landscape made in clay links to geologic time and metamorphosis. Questioning how architecture and landscape hold humanity, I think about my body contained in the spaces, my body as a container, and the space contained in the larger body of humanity. Experiencing body and reasoning what that experience does is questioning self in relationship with space.

My work reclaims my position of authority, a space that is my own space. Physically imposing enough to envelop the viewer, intensity of the labor, repetitiveness, and palliative obsessiveness manifest as the understanding of the universe. It asks about my identity as an artist, a daughter, and a human most honestly and genuinely.

Past Exhibition

Grounding; Grounded; Ground

October 28–December 2, 2023

In this exhibition of new works, Ara Koh centers clay as a protagonist Earthly and human in nature. The exhibition considers how clay remembers similarly…

Past Exhibition

Doing The Work

May 13–August 5, 2023

Hamiltonian Artists and the Kreeger Museum are pleased to present Doing The Work, featuring Hamiltonian Fellows Kyrae Dawaun, Cecilia Kim, Ara Koh, Samera Paz, and…

Past Exhibition

new.now. (2022)

December 18–January 29, 2022

Hamiltonian Artists is pleased to present new.now., our annual group exhibition debuting the work of Hamiltonian’s five distinguished 2021–2023 fellows—Kyrae Dawaun, Cecilia Kim, Ara Koh,…


Essay on Art

Hiba Ali

News & reviews

Washington Post
Mark Jenkins

Washington City Paper
Irene Bantigue

Washington Post
Mark Jenkins

Washington Diplomat
Mackenzie Weinger

District Fray Magazine
Colleen Kennedy