Ka-Kwong Hui

Well known as a compassionate and instructive ceramics teacher, Hui Ka-Kwong left his make on the art world with his whimsical Pop Art ceramics. Born in Canton, china in 1922, he studies painting and sculpture at the Shanghai School of fine Arts and then at the Kwong Tung School of Art in Guangzhou, Canton. He was an apprentice to sculptor Cheng Ho, but did not have formal instruction in ceramics until he immigrated to the United States in 1948. He first studied under artist Marguerite Wildenhain, at the Pond Farm Workshop in Guerneville, California. He lived and worked in Wildenhain’s studio, observing her skills with the potter’s wheel. He then went on to study at Alfred University, which at the time was, one of the most prestigious ceramic programs in the United States, where he earned his BFA in 1951 and MFA in 1952.

After graduation, he moved to New York City and accepted a teaching appointment at the Brooklyn Museum School, eventually becoming the head of the ceramics department. During this time, he continued to make his own art and maintain a Manhattan art studio. This first teaching job was the start of a long teaching career. Hui was considered to be a prominent arts educator and was influential in the development of many arts students in the Northeast region of the United States. Indeed, many of the art teachers in the region today were Hui’s students. He also taught at Douglass and Rutgers University.

His work started to receive recognition in the mid-1960’s, partly due to his relationship and collaborations with artist Roy Lichtenstein. Lichtenstein invited Hui to create a series of cup sculptures and ceramic mannequin heads, which led to experimentation with his own art. Hui’s Pop Art forms, with hard edges and bright colors, are also informed by a Chinese aesthetic that calls for symmetry and function; many of his ceramic works were lamps and mirrors. Although Hui maintains the functionality of craft ceramics, his work is considered to be the most successful in closing the gap between craft and fine art (Carney).

His style continued to evolve throughout his career, and he experimented with form, glazes and firing resulting in a vast and diverse oeuvre.

Hui was honored with a fellowship from the American Craft Council College. Additionally, his ceramics have been shown in numerous museums and galleries around the world, including Cannes International Ceramic Exhibition, France, Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, Munson-Williams-Proctor Museum of Art in Utica, NY, Brooklyn Museum, Museum of Contemporary Crafts in New York City, Memorial Art Gallery, University of Rochester, and New Jersey State Museum in Trenton.

Hui spent his retirement years with his wife, Eva Bouzard-Hui, in Calwell, New Jersey. He continued to make art and worked in his garden. He died on October 17, 2003. Hui ka-Kwong, a compassionate and revered educator, left behind ceramics that reflect a fusion of Chinese and American styles elevating craft ceramics to the museum level status of fine art.

Source: Encyclopedia of Asian American artists By Kara Kelley Hallmark

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