Morgan Adams

Object and Community Identity: Wooden Najeonchilgi

Class of: 2026

Major: Illustration BFA

Medium: Wood

Faculty: Aviva Maya Shulem

Prompt: Students will develop a 3D object/artifact, which demonstrates its connection to the community you identify with or define you, your belief, your personality, etc. The item can be a sculpture, a functional object/tool, etc.

The inspiration behind the engraving style of the box, Najeonchilgi (나전칠기) has over 1,000 years of history. It is a rich tradition that involves inlaying lacquerware with mother-of-pearl. The Korean word for this art form, Najeonchilgi, literally means “Mother-of-Pearl Lacquerware”, with Najeon meaning Mother-of-Pearl and Chilgi meaning Lacquer. My focus for this project was the Korean community, more specifically about the passion I feel for learning my history and culture. A very prominent cultural influence I had and still have in my home is Korean mother-of-pearl furniture. These are beautiful jewelry boxes or cabinets with intricate, opal-like designs on black backgrounds. When I was younger, I would go into my mom’s room and play with her mother-of-pearl jewelry boxes, rearranging the jewelry inside or taking out all the drawers. I feel as if the symbols and motifs depicted on these furniture represent the way my passion for learning Korean history and culture come out through my art. This treasure box modeled after my mother’s boxes combines references to the real boxes with my imagination to create a treasure box that can split open to reveal fully what is inside, to represent digging into history and culture.