My childhood drawings play a powerful role in establishing a feasible mode of communication on my part. My family moved to Japan when I was seven years old. I was then in kindergarten, and had no significant issues whenever I played with my friends. However, my brother Jae Woo, who was then eleven, experienced hard times during the beginning years at his new school. Most kids were not nice to him as they kept on teasing him because of his Korean name. After a few days, Jae Woo fought with them but later on they decided to become friends. As a conciliatory gesture, Jae Woo invited them to our house. He could not speak Japanese well, but he was able to communicate through drawing. On the playground, he drew a house and made a gesture of calling using English words as follows: "You come to my house." On that day, they became best friends at school. This short anecdote shows the fundamental importance of drawings in art. The contemporary world of art relies upon building significant skills towards the achievement of individual thoughts in building critical points of view based on personal experiences, most of which result from imagination processes and subsequently result in the recreation of a scene.
Jae Woo’s experiences serve to show the manner in which drawings have some special invitational power. In regard to this, there are several artists whom I admire and they include: Arshile Gorky, Roberto Matta, Ree Morton, Richard Tuttle, Kiki Smith, including other prominent names whose works have contributed predominantly to the development of drawing as a form of art. The drawings I create reflect similarities in terms of the imaginative aspects regarding their previous works of art. For instance, I cannot help looking at Gorky's paintings because of the energy displayed, while Matta is essentially like a magician who controls my thoughts. Moreover, Morton encourages me to put more effort into my work, and finally, Tuttle's work of art builds my confidence. Contrary to this, Kiki Smith seemed to be different.
However, in the present time Kiki Smith’s quotes resonate my art thoughts increasingly. The fact was that at the beginning, I did not share a similar viewpoint similar to Smith's work. However, through research I begun to appreciate her work in a progressive manner. I like the fact that her pieces are the result of life experiences. For instance, through her work experiences as a surveyor, an electrician's assistant, a bartender, a cook, and an emergency medical technician, she became an artist who understands and sees the world in several different ways. Her diversity and experience can be seen in, “Smith, however, also wants to reveal the socially constructed nature of the body, and she encourages the viewer to consider how external forces shape people’s perception of their body, both in art and in the media” (Kleiner 994). Moreover, her quotes are essentially trustworthy as they are based on her real experiences and agony.
The art of creating a good piece of art demands a lot with regard to seeing what happens when one decides to put some energy into something. Kiki Smith’s sensitivity and reaction with regard to her reaction to every little moment forms a critical first step in my analysis. Whenever I feel lost during the process, Kiki Smith's quote comforts me. Through the expression of her 'energy', this builds my patience virtues while intuitively influencing where to stop. Consequently, this has enhanced my level of sensitivity with regard to the things I see while making my notes and in the process developing a relationship in the presented evidence. In fact, whenever I am creating a drawing from my imagination I often get lost on what to do, which makes me stop working. However, by reflecting on Smith's quote, I am able to overcome my ingrown fear.
Emerging Aspects Regarding Scene Re-Creation
The five senses are the crucial tools for attentive experience. Each sensory system forms a passage for imagination. The functions of seeing, hearing, touching, smelling and tasting serve to transform me from the reaction stage to the imaginative stage. This is because through these practices I am able to bring back memories from the past and picture them in the current context. In particular, vision which entails seeing something in its actual sense further acts as a driving force and deepens imagination. The illusion created results in the formulation of various forms of possible meanings. This strengthens my obligation as an artist, which is making the invisible visible.
In order to achieve this milestone, my hands become a secondary tool for visualization. Sometimes, my hands move before I think and create improvisational drawings but most of the times I keenly follow the steps progressively so as not to lose what I had initially sensed in my imagination.
Scenario Building: The Pigeon Encounter
As I was walking to the subway, I noticed a pigeon was following me. I walked faster, so that the pigeon could go on its own way. However, the pigeon walked even faster. It seemed to catch up with my pace. Soon the pigeon cut through my path and grabbed a piece of bread. I gave a hollow smile to the bird and continued walking. The pigeon story is derived from my diary. Based on this experience, I created a drawing called, Race. First, I brainstormed a sequence of memories with the word, 'pigeon'. A pigeon became bread. Bread became Korea town. Korea town became a mirror. A mirror became bath products. Bath products became coffee. Coffee became a library and so on.
This stream of consciousness continues for about two pages as follows: “Pigeon - bread - Korea town - mirror - bath products - coffee - library - brownstone - Europe - summer - sun - friends - mimosa - New York - church - two face - night - rose - music - maroon - Japan - Physical Education - bold - prize - neck - white - cotton swabs - tools - six-orange - avenue - legs - spaghetti - cheese - boy - 2008 - machine - regret - olive - meat packing district - June - new - chubby - squat - red cross - Haiti - yellow - sand - reset - invisible - light - Rockefeller - water - absurdity - profit - Sarabeth - Central Park - New York Philharmonic - thunder - cab - phone - Prada clutch - Bank of America - England - slow - friendship - elasticity - Los Angeles - Line 7 - Grey- Purple - Mac computer - Winter - Korea - Heels - San Francisco - shallow - realization - fifteen years - leap - competition - distraction - ring - Sex and the City - entire - homeboy - fake - bonfire - reality - ash - communication - focus - politics - timing - dentist - 24th - Cho - waste - jealousy/admire - heart - brain - web - consuming - for - renunciation - condescending - Pratt - toward - endless - one - blue -pink - light green - ground - cafeteria - quarter - develop - 6 years - standstill - second floor - basement - Ben - falafel - Washington Square - email - blue skirt - conversation - firefly - a hug - random - subway - green bottle - Dunkin donuts - Max - first - unneeded - Chelsea - elementary school - cupcake - Joe - two years ago - rainy day - black car - beginning and the present - Equinox - change - knee - American apparel - crab - New Jersey - golf - four - Toronto guy - Philadelphia guy - rah rah activities - beer - alone - six pack - six packs - Chicago - dermatologist - Cloud gate - two weeks - blue bin - bags - a mug cup - bread - noodles - red wines - hello and goodbye - moving - triangle reinforce - fatality - target - CHI - Bloomingdales - Blue ribbon - bridge - lights - south - wind - resembles - exquisite - a bus - yellow tape - the steam of breath - disappear - My Thai - Randolph - Lansing - star - The Hills - understanding - bugs - three guys - conflict - Tempo - Russian Mafia family - Brown - Barnes and Nobles - restroom - computer - a hero - a doctor - substance - art history - Germany - balloon skirt - Art 21 - Columbus - police - cosmetics - driver's license - water - Nachos - six hours - Nighty Night - Swiffer - plastic bags - airplane - 2002 - tennis - Mountain dew - two red circles - doorman - Penny - package - Umberto - Tom yang soup - five days - a stomach bug - airport - still - forty dollars - pedicure - old women - culture - old times - jazz - Damon - coffee shop - yesterday - umbrella - Marc Jacobs - Newspaper - sensitive - circles - video - education - storm - picture - lack of quality - Twitter - fans - guitar - strings - Mozilla Firefox - Linda Francis - forest - my name - bear - Paris - player - Best Buy - Columbus Circle - fountain - coins - a hot dog - Desperate housewives - red hair - Lexus - economic crisis - Red into Blue - paper - orchestra - John Mayer - Sephora - cashew - basement - success - small - FIT - New Port - revolving door - performance - salad - Spinach - tooth - rice cake - Chelsea Market - open studio - Walter Wickiser - AOL - Frankenstein - painting - Japanese Film - Tatami - tea - bugs - Victoria's Secret - basketball - facial expression - Dean - raincoat - ephemeral - CD - timer - Godiva - bicycle - implant - button - medicine - authority - wood - file - owl - city lights - haircut - magazine - key - G train - dictionary - Heart - sunglass - coffee pot - letter - transition - mobile - states - dawn - stairs - tires - air - two identical caves - images - hammer - earth - spider - pencil - parchment - pearl - crowd - folders - traffic - authentic - Starbucks - Soy - Michael Buble - Gramercy - Lounge - dark - leggings - fortune - gap - strawberry plate - story - Nothing's gonna change my love for you - clean - expectation - curry - east village - Three - undefined - Brooklyn bridge - 2005 - triangle - movie - Lincoln center - football - 1 A.M - techno - endurance - lines - effort - skin type - Fresh - Spa week deal - Soho - Crepe - Dustin Hoffman - miracle - a dog - shoes - Line 6 - Scott - show - jacket - Blackberry - flower - Canada Dry - floss - silver - yard - theory - screen - books - voice - El Lissitzky - Avant Garde - typography - straw in a hot coffee cup - dress shirt - candy bar - Manhattan - 14th street – home.”
Artistic Interpretation: Forms, Lines & Colors
Among this list of words, a few were selectively transformed into forms, lines and colors. This can be seen in the drawing ‘Race’ in which four words became the key elements: pigeon, mirror, bath products, and coffee. Using these seemingly non-related words, I re-create a scene from my diary by transforming the four words into forms, lines, and colors. The word pigeon transforms into a lavender-colored organic shape. Mirror transforms into two symmetrical squares one over the gesso and the other under the gesso. Bath products become wavy lines with many circles. The circles surround the lavender colored organic shape. Then coffee transforms into brown colored dots. These are not the fixed codes, but they are instantly decided elements. Another quick decision for the placement becomes the next process.
The Element of Composition
Composition is essential for deriving the desired flow. The entire picture may or may not be successful depending on the placement of elements. The placement invites the viewer to want to read the drawings. In the museum, there are many pieces that look appealing. But perhaps only one of its paintings grabs one's immediate attention.
However, what if there are no elements other than form, line, and color in each work that connect the compositional flow? What if I listed the four forms of the elements in Race according to the brainstorming process steps? In as much as the forms were filled with bright colors, I need to take into consideration the element of placement or else the entire image would be dull in essence. Therefore, the viewers would lose interest and no longer pause to appreciate the piece. While making the drawings, my hands move before I think as seen in the bottom line of the second page of the repeat word play structure. In essence, there are no structures while placing the transformed elements. I rely on my sensible intuition sensibility, which forms my strength. Since my drawings are abstract images, I rarely illustrate the real images I see.
Numbers and Gender
No rules exist in my drawing process; however, numbers have particular meaning. Each number represents characteristics of gender. One is a young male; two is a young female; three is thirty-year old businessmen; four is chubby middle-aged women; five is a teen boy; six is a teen boy; seven is gay; eight is an aged female; nine is a young businessman; ten is a baby. Numbers are an indirect part of my method of drawing. Instead of making a realistic image, I use numbers to describe gender. For instance, in my drawing Wall Street Lunch Scene, the characteristics of gender have been specified (or dominantly used?).
Near Wall Street, I see two businessmen standing outside enjoying their coffee break. Through my brainstorming process, the two men become chopsticks. Instead of illustrating the dress shirts and ties of the businessmen, I chose chopsticks and the numbers that describe businessmen. One chopstick is divided into three parts and the other into nine parts, according to my number theory on gender.
Developing Consciousness and Communication in Art
Since my drawings start with stream of consciousness, the images are articulated in a whimsical, arbitrary, obscure way. The process is directed by me, and my imagination is bottomless. Without explanation, my drawings may not be comprehended literally. However, I expect the viewer to be able to sense my intuition through the elements: communication. My use of forms, lines and colors are not necessarily an indication of specific subject matter. They are subtle, but playful. They are unclear, but real. They are childlike, but serious. They are reckless, but fragile. They look ephemeral but connected. Each drawing contains a message that is from actual observation. As long as my drawings hold the viewers' gaze I believe the drawings and the viewers communicate. Since my art is non-verbalized language, I believe that the sensation of my drawings is capable of communicating. “A work of fine art is usually original, or of a kind, creation. Each work of art is the result of the artist’s personal effort, the touch of his or her hands, the fresh invention of the artists mind, spirit, and talent” (Lewis & Lewis 26-27).
To illustrate this fact, we can consider Mark Rothko's painting. One establishes the fact that it evokes a strong sense of imagination among the concerned viewers. Therefore, we as viewers we are in a position to ‘read’ his paintings in essence, although they are simply canvases filled with color and no particular organic form. “But art should be intelligible to the viewer. Integral to its success are formal concerns; its design and composition” (Lewis & Lewis 33). The language I try to communicate through drawings has distinct meanings, which is independent from verbal language. Without interpretation, drawings may seem like meaningless marks or objects. I am indifferent to whether viewers read my drawings precisely as I have intended or not. I want them to create their own stories through the potential contained in my drawing. I constantly see the forms, lines, and colors as elements full of potential.
Connections between Art Elements and Personal Experiences/Feelings
Regardless of formalities involved, the development of a connection point between art and personal life experiences including encounters influencing the meaning derived from art. The possibilities of stories that are created by the viewer are similar to the numbers of cases seen in mathematics. If I was to conduct a survey in which I ask ten people to make up a creative story with one of my drawings, each respondent would probably give me a different story. In addition, each element would entail more than ten different meanings that are connected directly or indirectly to their personal experiences. This implies that in the process of creating my drawings I am basically sharing my infinite imagination with others.
The personality of the artist is essentially cemented through his or her work. This implies that the artist's feeling and experiences influence his or her work to a great extent. Regardless of knowledge, intuitive feelings help us to comprehend art in a better way. My installation pieces have an interrelationship between the thought process and direct experiences in my life. The drawings infer indirectly to the results of actual or personal experiences that have essentially been transformed into art. The indirect association results from the procedure followed via the stream of consciousness, which arise from the events of real-time observation.
However, the actual experiences in installations are more directly intended than in my drawings. Most of the installation pieces are based on an actual object from home. In one of these pieces called ‘Carried Away’, I chose a clear shower-curtain that has netted pockets on one side. While painting on the surface, I also transformed it into a bundle. Most of the netted pockets were removed. I used an object from home because I enjoy being at home. The place I live in is the most comfortable space. I live in the city, forty minutes away from school. Nonetheless, I love my home. No matter where its location is, I love my place. Every time I leave my house, I pack my bag heavy. My friends make jokes that I have packed the entire house. When my bag is fully packed, I am most comfortable. For the other piece, it does not mean that I do not think of the viewer. I implied my laziness by using a bed spread. I wet it several times with watery gesso. When it hardened, I covered myself to make 'Harim' shape. Then with the foam spray, I stuffed the hollow shape to make it stable. I covered the outside with subtle images and the inside with piles of drawings. It's messy as it looks unorganized and somewhat different from the drawings on the wall. However, this piece implies my relaxed behavior staying at home, motionless and thoughtful. This piece essentially carries with more of a narrative element compared to the shower curtain. In essence, it depicts me at home, in a way that no one really gets to see.
Furthermore, it also portrays my struggle between home essentials and studio activities. There is a feeling of guilt involved when I am not at the studio, but also intends to bring out the fact that I am not indifferent to work. I think about my work at home, in bed, and under the bed spread. Including the drawings, this could be seen as part of the installation. Other installation pieces are all described by one word: home. Each piece is a different episode about home; hence, my home and I cannot be separated. This is because my home environment and I are essentially intertwined into a single and distinct personality description. In addition, it reflects the atmosphere found in my house where the choice of furniture, curtains, and placement were influenced by my personality with an aim of creating ambience. Generally, the pieces I create fully reflect upon my personality.
When I first presented my work in Korea, I was busy explaining the work, the process or the reason for its existence. There seemed to be a need for explanation to each accompanying piece. It looked better if the reasons sounded more artistic or complicated. However, this need has changed after building extensive visual knowledge throughout my study. Furthermore, I have gained enough confidence in my theory that interpretation is not essential as described by Kiki Smith's quote, I trust my work. It is collaborative with the material, and when viewed critically, it portrays a collaborative element with the world. This is well elaborated in due consideration of Kiki Smith’s works of art in which further interpretations have led to the development of new frontiers as seen in my pieces. In addition, interpretations are not essential for all art works and in their absence viewers have to use their imagination.
My works reflect the level of care to which I give the littlest things and my subsequent reaction to the simplest things. Things that used to be invisible become visible with a human touch. Many things are defined clearly, whether in words or in visual language. For example, in between two perfectly clarified things such as A and B, there are invisible things that are yet to be revealed. I would like to be known as an artist who cares for the unrevealed things. I would like to bring out that potential and share it with viewers. Finally, the facts prove that indeed the contemporary world of art is built on the basis of involving individual thoughts, personal experiences, emerging view points and the fundamental role of imagination in the recreation of real life scenes.