Nina Jun is a first generation Korean American who has lived in Southern California for over 30 years. When Nina first came to the U.S. with her family, as a typical immigrant, she was engaged in the family’s small business. After she successfully settled into her American life, she bought her dream home on the hills of the Orange County overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
It was when her daughter turned three that Nina decided to go to art school to pursue her real American dream as an artist. Nina first took painting classes expanding on her drawing skills learned in Korea. But once she tried a figurative sculpture class, Nina realized that it was the sculptural arts that felt more natural to her. She enjoyed working in clay and the evolving three dimensional objects. In her graduate courses, she studied video installations that combined ceramic objects. Nina received the Distinguished Achievement in Creative Activity Award when she graduated from California State University in Long Beach with an MFA in sculpture.
Nina’s interest in ceramic balloons grew when she accidentally lost a mylar balloon in the air and subsequently felt empty. She watched the flying balloon until it became a dot in the blue sky before finally disappeared into space. This was the inspiration to make ceramic balloons that could stay with us forever.
Infinite space has always made Nina wonder. Nina’s work is a reflection of her interest in the science of space. Nina uses different terms from astronomy as the titles of her work - balloons with dots are referred to as galaxies and balloons with butterflies as constellations.
Although Nina’s mylar balloon sculptures are popular throughout the world, the colors Nina uses in her ceramic work are rooted in the colors of traditional Korean architecture and clothing. Each ceramic balloon is, like in painting, a canvas to her and she paints each piece with underglaze and fires several times before she fires the piece finally with the transparent glaze. The simple dot designs are based on her favorite form of minimalism.
Nina’s ceramic balloons have been shown internationally including 12 solo shows and numerous group shows. She hopes the ceramic balloons that she started as a new genre in sculpture continue to grow making more people happy.