Ilene Park ’22 Finds Ceramics Inspiration Within Nature


Ilene Park ’22

Ilene Park ’22 trimming a bowl on the wheel.

Ilene Park ’22 is a four-year Senior from Seoul, South Korea. She is a head of Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA), Humane Society, and is an Editor-in-Chief of The Hotchkiss Review. She currently takes ceramics and previously played flute in the Hotchkiss Orchestra.

Did you have any experience with ceramics before coming to this school?

I didn’t have any experience, but I had previous exposure from my mum, who has always done ceramics. A lot of the pieces in our house are either traditional Korean ceramics or things she’s made. Hotchkiss is the first time I got to do ceramics myself, even though it’s always been a large part of my life.

How did you first become interested in the arts, specifically ceramics?

I used to play the flute in the Hotchkiss Orchestra, but when I started to explore ceramics in the spring of my Prep year, I became really interested in pursuing it at a deeper level. So, I did a non-credit independent study with Ms. Christine Owen, instructor in ceramics, my Lower Mid year. I moved on to fully committing to ceramics as a course during my Upper Mid year. My interest in ceramics at Hotchkiss was fostered not only by the great facilities, but also by the beautiful view from the ceramics wing.

How has the school helped you grow as an artist? What has the school been able to provide you with to excel in your designated interest?

Hotchkiss as a space itself has helped me grow. On top of the facilities, there is inspiration from the nature at Hotchkiss and from my peers. I was in Honors Ceramics this year with only four other people, and we have served as inspirations to each other. The main way I have developed is through Ms. Owen, who guided me through finding what I like to do in ceramics and how I can become a better artist. She comes up with creative and effective ways to express my ideas.

What’s your favorite part of ceramics?

My favorite part is how you can transform a mound of clay into something useful, like a mug or a bowl, or sculptural and artistic. Just witnessing and being part of this transformation is my favorite part.

What is the favorite piece you’ve created recently or has had the biggest impact on you?

As a part of my collection, Metamorphosis, I created these mugs, and the bodies of the cups have handles attached to them that represent stages of the butterfly’s life cycle. That piece has had the most impact on me because it reflects my personal interest in animal welfare. It was also a way for me to intersect my passions for ceramics and the Humane Society.

What advice would you give to younger students who are interested in ceramics?

With ceramics, you have to experiment with what you do. You can’t be afraid of messing up or not getting it right the first time. Throwing on the wheel is a difficult experience, but I promise that you’ll get a hang of it. Sculpting and handbuilding are also just avenues for you to express your creativity. Keep doing it.