Interview: Yoonshin Park
I have been working with sculptural papers, artist books, and installation. My main media concentration is pulp, paper, and artist books. My interest in comprehensive processing of paper-making and book binding caters my work to encompass various elements woven into complete objects.
Elements involved in hand paper-making and bookbinding have been embedded into my creative process from the repetitive motion associated with the traditional paper making, to a stack of papers waiting to be folded, these components render substantial factors.
Tied, the title of the installation, is a phonetic pun on the rising tides and the paper pages bound by threads.
As the water rises and falls, pages of our daily experience add and subtract to and from our memory. Our daily life permeates our memory just as the ink is absorbed into each page and create new shapes and patterns onto what once was a clean slate of a blank page.
In Tied series, I used handmade papers, pen ink, threads and fabric; materials used in book binding. Papers are cut into strips, dyed in ink and sewn together on a sheet of starched muslin. Deciding on the ingredients for the series was a conscious one. The medium or material I use more or less dictates the direction in developing my ideas. In this series, maintaining the very original function of these material was a guiding line for the progress of the series.
When did you first get involved with paper and installation work?
That would be in graduate school when I was working on my first M.A. degree. I took the introductory paper making class. During the idea developing process for the thesis exhibition, I experimented with various materials, techniques and formats. I came across half processed Kozo fiber along the way and eventually the thesis became a room size installation.
This experience propelled me to continue my study of paper. I enrolled in another Master’s program, focusing in book and paper arts.
Your installation, “Tied” has a very meditative feel to it. Tell us about your process and what you think about when creating your work.
“Tied” indeed is a very meditative work; it reflects the paper making and bookbinding process. Handmade papers are folded and cut into specified sizes then lightly washed. Once dried, they are dyed in several shades of ink mixture one shade at a time. Dried and colored paper strips are sewn onto starched muslin fabric.
Each process requires an endless amount of patience. Not only does each step take a long time, it is a long series of repetitive motions. The final stage of assembling the pieces for the display size is rather soothing and also meditative. The repetition of active motion and passive waiting is part of any creative process and I often take the advantage of this in between these steps. I let my mind wander and slip into daydreaming.
What emotions do you hope the viewers experience when looking at your art?
I get truly excited when viewers ask questions: about the materials, techniques used, process, hours spent, inspiration. I like the fact that my work could pique viewer’s curiosity on my art. Questions are best evidence and I enjoy such interaction with viewers.
Like you asked above, my works have a self-reflective quality. If the viewers can experience something similar and relate to such an experience with me, that would definitely make my exhibition much more meaningful.
How do you prevent artistic burnout? Share a few of your favorite ways to get inspired and replenish your creativity.
Recently, I made a resolution to take breaks with some regularity when I’m in my studio. It is so easy to stay too long in a studio without getting out. Particularly when you are working towards the completion of a project, or a deadline. I pay close attention in keeping the creative energy flow before it is completely drained. Learning a new technique or researching in different industries always helped me to refresh my brain when I feel like I am hitting an artist’s block- if you will. Meeting and engaging in a creative conversation with people in a relaxed setting always helps me regain the good vibe.
What artists and creatives inspire you?
I maintain my interest in various materials. Finding a new tool or material leads me to work on a completely different type of work by expanding my limit. it challenges my perspective on some old and familiar objects. I should have added this to the question above, but browsing through aisles of fabric stores, hardware store or toysRus can be one inspiring walk for the creative process.
These days I find so many talented artists online. The virtual art world is so accessible; many of the artists today are truly inspiring and pioneering in the field with originality and craftsmanship. However, I will say that my all time favorite artists would be Eva Hesse and Agnes Martin among many other.
Tell us about your artistic community. Are you involved in your local art scene?
Since I am living and working near where I went to school, it is easy for me to stay in the loop with my artist friends. It is so crucial to have a support group where you could share your thoughts, frustrations and anything else with the people who have witnessed your growth from a student to an artist.
I also am a member of a couple of local and international artist organizations.
What are you most proud and excited about in your art career so far?
I honestly can’t pick just one since the daily action of art making is an achievement; it may be small but it is incredibly valuable. For example, finding the perfect light bulb for a project, or finally figuring out how to efficiently hide the hideous cable in an installation, or it could be that I made a couple of application deadlines in timely manner!