Artist Statement 2014 / Insook Hwang


     Born and raised in South Korea, I earned an M.F.A. at the City College of New York in 1999. I returned to the United States in 2006 and made my home in New Haven, Connecticut. I’ve had twelve solo exhibitions in both Korea and the U.S., and participated in two major International Contemporary Arts Exhibitions (Busan Biennale 2002 in Korea, Officina  Asia 2004 in Italy), and received a 2010 Artist Fellowship Grant from the Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism and A.R.T grant for individuals from the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation in  2013.

      This Project (The Energy - Love, A site specific installation) is supported by a grant from Artist's Resource Trust and presented by the Arts Council of Greater New Haven.

      I believe my role as an artist is to inspire and energize people with love and positive energy through my art. In my work, my interest is in creating a form that resembles a living organism by combining small, repeating images that assemble into a larger, more intriguing form. This approach employs some unique cloning and collage techniques, as well as a distinctive vocabulary. The special characteristics of these works lie in the repetitive, playful combinations of cartoon-like symbols and marks. When creating forms digitally, I use each small image like a living cell, replicating them with slight variations in their form.

      The small and overlapping images and written text in my pieces, not easily decipherable from a distance, work like a cryptic code and serve as contemporary talismans wishing people well being, balance and happiness. In Movement 1-6 (2013), The Moments (2013) and The Energy - Love (The molecules, wall 2) the abstract marks of two figures that appear to hold hands and dance together symbolize the DNA of harmony, unity and the joy of humankind. In the lenticulars, the word “love” is written in different languages that overlap each other in patterns like hidden codes. The net-like structure symbolizes the accumulated memories and experiences of human beings that lasts forever, their forms shifting and evolving in space.

       Since 2008, I have been making lenticular prints (holograms) and applying them as distinctive visual elements in my work. This is a process involving the creation of multiple images and merging them digitally into one interlacing layer, printing the images and applying the lenticular lenses (clear plastic plate that has ridges) to it. The final print as viewed from different angles changes like an animation. In my lenticuars, multiple images of abstract symbols, marks and patterns of texts in bright tones of colors are overlaid giving the texture a look of colored glass.

      Acrylic paint is the main material in my wall drawing and my canvas work. I formulated the fancy, shiny and transparent colors myself, after years of experimenting, to maintain a distinct texture and finish on different surfaces (tape, paper, mylar and canvas). To maintain a consistent density, transparency, viscosity and flow for certain material, I used different ratios of acrylic paint, water, medium and ink, a rather thick mixture of paint for stenciling and a thinner composition for wall drawing. To create the circular blob marks with a plastic or glass like thickness upon the canvas, I use less water and more medium making it more viscous but still transparent.

       The Energy - Love, is an installation of two distinct forms and techniques, a net structure (wall1, 8.5 x 25 feet) on one wall and a collage of mixed media prints (8.5 x 13 feet) of bubble like structures or molecules on another. The net structure takes its particular shape from the wall it lies on, but the reflective mylar on the wall conceals its presence. In fact the mirror like material opens up the space, by extending the room and layering the net structure on top of itself, to the extent that it appears to float in the extended space. The viewers’ presence is integrated into the work as their reflection changes the colors and tones of the space upon which the net floats.

      The molecules (wall 2, 8.5 x 25 feet), is my imagination of the invisible but most powerful energy field in existence, the love for all living things. Created by digital manipulation, layering and modification of painted images with techniques of collage it creates depth and movement in the space. The collage areas consist of distinctive textures according to the medium applied, which includes glitter, mirror film. The resulting image resembles inside the deep ocean or the microscopic view of organisms in which glowing molecules with distinctive marks grow, multiply, merge and float freely. Displayed like a video wall, each individual frame is but a detail of a full landscape that comes into view when put together. As it looks in this form they are two distinct images but originally they started out as one piece. Here the division between the two works gives viewers a way of interacting with them as they stand between them.

      I perceive the given space not only as an artist but also as an architect, creating dioramas and designing my installations in relation to the given space, human scale, and the movement of the viewers. I redefine the given space, discover hidden spaces, and create new spaces with my work. My installation can be expandable and transformable as each individual work is connected with the others organically, and can change its position according to the space where it’s located. Some works may float while some works hang; some are framed while others are not. This resembles the structure of nature, as a living organism, as each different unit multiplies and builds up into another different form.

      In my installation, there is no hierarchy or division between elements, instead they all are connected and interact with each other. Elements are whimsically combined and float in the space. Between disparate forms and concepts, two and three dimensional spaces, actual space and virtual space, physical objects (material) and virtual images, even the work and the viewer are intertwined. In my installations, viewers become animated abstract elements moving around and passing through the installation and between works. Their interaction with the work completes the work.

     Techniques used include lenticular prints, stenciling, sticker making, digital cutting, photography, animation, painting, drawing and collage. The materials used are reflective mylar, glitter film, printed paper, tape, video projection(animation), acrylics, ink, and canvas.