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Namhi Kim WagnerPlayful Mastery, Traditional Roots

Exhibition on view March 11 - April 28, 2024

Reception: March 15, 5-7pm, free and open to the public; RSVP requested

Gallery 224 at the Ceramics Program, Office for the Arts at Harvard

224 Western Ave, Allston, Massachusetts 02134


Namhi Kim Wagner (1923-2023) was a passionate ceramic artist who enhanced the Boston arts scene with her creative energy and bold, modern expressions inspired by the rich history of Korean ceramics. Born in Korea, raised in Japan, and returning to Korea before emigrating to the United States, she taught Korean Language at Harvard University from 1964-1995, becoming the first director of its Korean Language Program. The “Namhi Kim Wagner Korean Language Prize” was established in 2022 to honor her legacy.


Often teaching all day and staying up all night to perfect her craft, she connected to her origins by mastering Korean traditional ceramic techniques, most notably the slip decoration and sgraffiti of 15-16th century Buncheong ware.


“In the process of experimentation, practice, and studying Korean ceramics history, I was so happy to find myself - where I came from and where I was heading. Each stamp and each incision I make on my pots feels like a step closer to these roots and my destiny.” — Namhi Kim Wagner


Nancy Selvage, artist and former director of the Ceramics Program – Office for the Arts at Harvard, writes: “Among her numerous bodies of work are delicate plates with vibrant stamped patterns, swelling jars encircled with floral carving, and large bowls overflowing with big happy fish and lotuses. Dynamic tension and harmonic unity characterize the relationships between her refined forms and masterful surface decorations. In the mid 70's, most American ceramists in the Boston area knew something about Chinese and Japanese ceramics, but they knew very little about Korean ceramics. Namhi Kim Wagner changed that. For the next forty years she was very active and effective as a spokeswoman and as an entertaining teacher of Korean ceramic techniques. She gave many presentations to a variety of different audiences in major museums and studios in the Boston area. As an artist-in-residence at the Harvard Ceramics Program, she inspired the large group of students and staff with her expertise, dedication, and passion.”

—Nancy Selvage


Namhi Kim Wagner has exhibited internationally and her work is in the collections of the Harvard Art Museums and the Museum of Fine Arts Boston. This memorial exhibition presents a wide range of ceramics from her prolific career.


Gallery 224 at the Ceramics Program, Office for the Arts at Harvard is open to the public Monday through Friday, 10am-4pm and by appointment during exhibition dates at 224 Western Ave, Allston, Massachusetts 02134. All are welcome to attend a free reception on Friday, March 15 from 5-7pm; RSVP is requested. Visit our website for updated hours and complete details.


About The Ceramics Program, Office for the Arts at Harvard

Known internationally for its leadership in the field, the Ceramics Program provides a creative learning environment for a dynamic mix of students and professionals from Harvard University, greater Boston and international communities. Gallery 224, the program’s exhibition space, showcases the work of emerging and established ceramic artists, academic collaborations, and the talent within our studio community. All programming in Gallery 224 is led by Ceramics Program Director Kathy King. For more information about current and upcoming exhibitions, classes and other programming at the Ceramics Program, Office for the Arts at Harvard, please visit: or call the main office at 617-495-8680.

Gallery 224 | Office for the Arts at Harvard

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