Paul Rho- Merging South Korean Influences To His NYC Style
Photo Courtesy: Paul Rho / @galeriaaires

Paul Rho: Merging South Korean Influences To His NYC Style

By: Russell Davis

In the heart of New York City’s bustling Koreatown, amidst the vibrant hum of urban life, lies a sanctuary of creativity and tranquility. This oasis is DOCLAY NYC, a ceramics studio renowned not just for its unique approach to pottery but also for being the creative ground of artist and ceramics instructor, Paul Rho. With an illustrious career that has spanned continents, Rho’s journey from Seoul, South Korea, to the cultural melting pot of New York City has been one of discovery, reflection, and artistic evolution. Through his work and teachings at DOCLAY NYC, Paul Rho offers more than just an insight into ceramics; he provides a window into how his South Korean heritage subtly yet significantly influences his art.

Paul Rho’s story is not just about geographical transitions but also an internal exploration of identity and heritage. Growing up in South Korea instilled in him a rich tapestry of cultural experiences that he initially set aside as he ventured across the globe. “Having lived in many countries besides South Korea, I have pushed away my heritage,” Rho reflects. Yet, despite his conscious effort to forge an identity independent of his roots, his art tells a different story—one where “Koreanness” emerges naturally as an integral part of who he is and what he creates.

Rho’s artwork is a testament to the unconscious interweaving of his cultural background into his creative expression. Elements reminiscent of traditional Korean culture such as Origami, moon jars—the iconic white porcelain vessels—and motifs inspired by the Hanbok (traditional Korean attire) make frequent appearances in his pieces. These elements are not forced or intentionally incorporated; instead, they flow organically into his work—a subtle nod to a heritage that refuses to be sidelined.

At DOCLAY NYC Ceramics Studio—Paul Rho’s haven and classroom—the artist imparts more than just technical skills to eager students. He introduces them to a world where art intersects with personal history and cultural identity through clay. The studio becomes a space where minimalism meets timelessness under Rho’s guidance. Once a week, students gather around this maestro to learn not only how to fire clay but also how to imbue their creations with stories untold—much like Rho does.

The workshop focuses on crafting items such as plates, dishes, and vases that carry within them whispers of Korean aesthetics—an appreciation for understated beauty that speaks volumes. This teaching philosophy mirrors the essence of what makes Korean ceramics distinguished: simplicity adorned with deep meaning.

Paul Rho’s influence extends beyond the physical boundaries of DOCLAY NYC through social media platforms where he shares snippets of his life—both as an artist and instructor—with followers around the globe (; These digital avenues offer insights into his creative process and highlight how seamlessly aspects of South Korean culture meld into his works.

What stands out about Paul Rho’s artistic journey is not merely the fusion of cultures in his art but also the evolution it symbolizes—a journey from resistance to acceptance concerning one’s roots. It underscores a broader narrative prevalent in today’s global society: embracing one’s heritage enriches rather than dilutes individuality in creativity.

Rho’s classes at DOCLAY NYC serve as both workshop and metaphorical bridge—connecting East and West through clay molding hands underlining that true art transcends geographical boundaries and cultural distinctions while celebrating them all at once.

Through Paul Rho’s eyes—and hands—the world sees how art can become a dialogue between past and present, personal history merging with universal narratives creating timeless pieces that resonate across cultures. His work exemplifies how elements borrowed from one’s culture can find new meanings when reinterpreted through fresh perspectives—making every plate crafted or vase fired not just an object but a piece carrying layers of intertwined stories waiting to be discovered.

As Paul Rho continues on this path bridging worlds through ceramics at DOCLAY NYC Ceramics Studio nestled in New York City’s Koreatown heartbeat – each creation serves as homage both to tradition cherished and future possibilities untold – marking him not merely as an artist or instructor but a storyteller whose medium happens to be clay.

Published by: Nelly Chavez

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