Early influences on my artworks - family, culture, and life event
My mother was an artist(majored in graphic design) and art educator. My father studied physics and worked as an engineer. While growing up in Korea in a Catholic family, I was taught to follow the law and order and to pursue the perfection of skill under Confucianism. Buddhism taught me a way to meditate and contemplate, while Zen showed me how to be spontaneous in every moment of life. Shamanism increased my awareness of a life force behind the visual reality. The immigration to the US in 1988 triggered “the awareness” of my roots and my identity in terms of my way of perceiving, thinking, reasoning and responding to the surroundings.
My interests - our universe, space, and light
I have been equally interested in the visual natural phenomena as well as in the invisible natural force behind the visual phenomena. I place myself in the middle of these natural phenomena, seeing itself. The universe witnesses itself through my eye. I see that everything exists in relationship with others. These relationships sustain the universe and form ultimate unity, a self-sustainable living system. A beautiful form with function. My artworks are the reflection of this interior process devoid of as many personal agendas, thoughts, and judgments as possible.
Intelligence is the product of accumulated perception through sensitivity.
I am the medium to experience our universe. My work is a reflection of my understanding and appreciation for our universe; its interconnectedness; its pattern by self-organizing itself; its unity/wholeness.
Among all, there are two things to which I’ve been drawn. First, space/void unoccupied between objects/materials. The second is light.
Space - The Void/Yeobaek
During my college years at OTIS Parsons in Los Angeles, I made two trips back to Korea. During the trip, I learned much in-depth about “yeobaek” which is an important element in Korean art, culture, and life. In painting, yeobaek is the void/unoccupied space. In architecture, yeobaek is the space where activity happens between the walls. In life, yeobaek is a restfulness. In music, yeobaek is the silence between sounds or time between notes. I’ve found the same notion of “yeobaek” in composition 4’ 33” by an American composer, John Cage. This “four minutes thirty-three seconds of silence” presents the silence in the environment to the audiences.
A void is a form
In the early 1990s, I began to break away from representation to semi-abstraction. Then, from semi-abstraction to abstraction. By adopting calligraphic marks, the space/yeobaek was presented by movement, direction, speed, weight, rhythm, gravity and energy. I moved away from acrylic paint to water-based media – gouache, watercolor, and sumi ink – and I worked on a stainable surface – Korean mulberry paper, commonly known as rice paper. When gouache and other water-based pigment is absorbed by this paper, it allows a similar experience as seeing colors in stained glass by letting the light pass through. With this paper’s translucent quality, I began to use the physical light as one of my media. The surface(Korean mulberry paper) was used to reveal the ground itself and assimilate the ground with the wholeness of a completed work.
In addition to Korean mulberry paper, I paint on Korean transparent colored silk, “nobang”. It is similar to organza in the west. Multi-layering silk allows more light to be kept between each layer, increasing the saturation of color. It makes possible for the physical light in the environment to interact with the work at the moment a viewer is present. Mixed-media work participates in the ever-changing dynamic moments rather than recording the past. Space/yeobaek is experienced as a series of progressive color fields.
Light fills up the void, casting the space.
A void is given form by light.
And I perceive light as a form.
All photos by Helena J. Min
Our universe is the largest form known to us. “Life_Self-organizing” and "Life sees itself" are a series of ongoing works based on how I perceive our universe as the following.
Everything exists in relationship to others: part to whole and whole to parts.
The relationships sustain the universe and form ultimate unity.
The unity comes with an understanding of relationships.
My work is a creative event of relationships that seeks unity and equilibrium.
In this universe, all elements are interconnected in relationships, through which the universe and our nature sustain itself. Over the years, I’ve come to erase the boundary between “I” and the rest. Air I inhale is from outside of my body. Water consisting of 60% of my body is from outside of my body. My cells are regenerated daily with the consumption of other animals, plants, and grains. Plants need sunlight to transform the light into stored energy. We exist only in the universe through relationship(s). In painting, the composition is about this relationship and equilibrium. If any part missing or misplaced, the whole composition would not function or collapse.
At the beginning of the 21st century, in our time of climate crisis facing the collapse of life on earth, all human knowledge and creativity are to be devoted to restoring this sacred relationship that sustains life.
Pattern / System / Probability - manifested sacred relationship
Theses images are from my Pinterest board titled "pattern/system/probability,"
which are the manifested images of the relationship/interconnectedness that sustains our universe.
All photos by Helena J. Min
Photos from Helena J. Min's board at https://www.pinterest.com/helenamin5/patternsystemprobability/