Soo Kyung Bae
I am a senior at Pitzer College, majoring in media studies and art. I have been taking photographs since high school and dreaming about being a photographer since I served in the Korean military in 2007. My work, Puzzled Hearted, takes the form of a large-scale photograph. I explore interpersonal relationships, particularly the pain from separation. As society becomes more sophisticated technologically, more emphasis is placed on money, competition and individualism. As a result, relationships often suffer. I am interested in the relationship between artist, audience and object, and creating a dialogue between them. My work is influenced by Korean filmmaker Kiduk Kim and the feminist photographer Cindy Sherman. Kiduk’s films deal with the intense and insatiable desires that affect us all. His characters are socially isolated and suffer, and he brutally depicts their conflicts. I am impressed by Cindy Sherman’s untitled still cuts and her ugly and brutal photographs of figure models. While her bloody and brutal pictures do not depict beauty, I thought she was grappling with different types of beauty.
Allison Kate Cherkis
My work should not be dissected for a hidden agenda or purpose. I take photographs of ordinary moments in life with the intention of transporting the viewer to another place. My travels through Spain, Morocco and Portugal in the spring of 2008 taught me how to capture the grit in the everyday, notice subtle variations in light and movement and generate a truthful conversation about the people who surround me. As a child growing up in an artistic home, I learned the skill of visually composing a picture. So while backpacking, I found myself seeing the world that way. I would cite Chuck Close, Ryan McGinley, Artemisia Gentileschi and Louise Bourgeois as my main influences, and I aspire to create the same intimacy, thought and wisdom as my work and life evolve. These artists have broken boundaries through a spirit of rebellion. My blog, The Fantastical Adventures of a Curious Cherkis, serves as a running portfolio for my photos and writing.
My passion for art and painting has been with me ever since I was very young. At an early age I knew my ambition—my dream—was to become a fine art painter. My mentor, an expert in trompe l’oeil, focused my training on 18th and 19th century masters like Vincent Van Gogh and John Singer Sargent. His teachings and attention to detail greatly influenced my work. Therefore, my approach has been from a traditional and academic standpoint. My work describes the human condition and one’s relationship to the self. Although classically rendered, the compositions and subject matter place my work in the present. Despite my impressionistic style, which verges on abstraction, I am dedicated to being a contemporary artist. Recently in Italy, I immersed myself in Renaissance art, but realized upon return that my relationship to my own traditional painting and sculpture had shifted. While I will always have an appreciation for 18th and 19th century painting, I am much more interested in contemporary concerns. Recent studies of English and world literature have led to a fascination with the uncanny. My works explore unspoken fantasies, fears and dreams. Fearless of vivid color and bold brush strokes, I draw the viewer into the dreamscapes of my canvasses and hold them in a trance.
My work explores how process plus diverse materials creates exciting and unpredictable results. I am especially interested in processes that take advantage of the material’s natural properties in new and innovative ways. I am currently exploring wood in its many forms. Among other things, wood can be carved, bent, burnt and used in its raw state. In Tall Duel Twin (2009) I used fire to shape the wood. I began with a series of indentations and drilled holes in the wood. I then set fire to the wood using lighter fluid and wax. Fire cannot be completely controlled, adding to the spontaneity and unpredictability of the work. The color changes that resulted from the burning are an important aspect of the work—sooty black, gradations of umber, the natural tan of raw wood. I am greatly inspired by Richard Serra’s Torqued Ellipses (1996), which influenced both the scale and physicality of Tall Duel Twin.
I do not see art as a field of study, but as a lifestyle. I create daily—painting, cooking, improvisational expression, real human interaction, artful knot-tying. I believe that art is a form of human consciousness and a way to interact infinitely with the universe. I weave and stitch together natural and man-made objects, finding beauty in the mundane, in nature’s subtle harmonies of color and texture. I take scraps and random objects from my daily life and transform them into artworks. Orange peels, pistachio nuts, avocado pits, fallen leaves, dead butterflies, driftwood, ripped pages of a book, discarded bus tickets, used tea bags, broken fence posts and lone feathers form beautiful patterns and details in the world and in my daily existence. By placing these overlooked objects on a pedestal, viewers re-experience things they may have missed. I utilize unusual natural forms to recreate a new understanding of nature. The improvised and repetitive knots that I tie retrace the tangled lines back to my childhood when I first began weaving and knitting. I find joy in meticulous and intricate processes. I find that my art is not just the result of my work, but also the meditative journey along the way. I want to make people look, both to nature and to themselves, to see and seek their own interpretations of what is beautiful.
As an artist I believe in acquiring the necessary skills and craft to master the materials I work with, which in my case is wood. I have been working intimately with wood—learning to carve, shape and connect—for some time and believe that in my work art, labor and craft become one. My aim is to breathe new life into the once living, now dead, material so it can trigger a memory of its former self. Although these works can be experienced both formally and conceptually, the inherent sensuousness of the beauty of the wood can be understood intuitively. A certain level of craft and expertise is required to manipulate the wood in specific ways. An intimate understanding of what tools can do and how they function is vital. When I begin to work on a sculpture I am not sure how it will develop. This uncertainty excites me, and allows me to make full use of my imaginative potential and to enjoy the journey along the way.
I started making artwork as soon as I could hold a crayon. Throughout my career as an artist, I have painted murals, explored multiple media including airbrush, oils and acrylics and organized several exhibitions and artwalks. Since 2005, I have been making large-scale mixed media sculptural works that are politically and conceptually engaged. These works explore familiar American cultural, political and corporate icons, which are deconstructed to create new objects that reflect on dominant symbols in our consumer-driven society. These symbols are ubiquitous, embedded in every experience we have. The materials I use include candy canes, Christmas lights, wood, vinyl, foam, fabric and many other diverse materials. Many of my installations are, at first glance, humorous or shocking—an attempt to draw the viewer into a conversation about the issues and concerns raised in the work.
As an artist, the process of creating—transforming clay into a smooth vessel or yarn into an enchanting object—holds the most meaning. Art has many functions—it can serve as a creative outlet, be used as a therapeutic tool and may be incorporated into our daily lives. I have formed an intimate relationship with my art practice, deriving both calming and stimulating benefits from the act of making artwork. When my hands are creating, my mind is soothed, immersed in the serenity of the process. My work is influenced by Liza Lou’s meticulous artistic practice and by Phil Borges’s sublime portraits. I have great respect for the tradition, skill and everyday themes inherent in Maria Martinez’s pottery as well as Felix-Gonzales Torres’s gift for engaging the viewer in his work. In Untitled (2009), I explore the range of responses that impacts the viewer. Drawing on craft techniques learned in childhood, I strive for clarity through clean lines and repetitive forms as a means to create a space of contemplation—aesthetic as well as spiritual reflection. Immersed in the work, the viewer will undergo a tranquil and intimate experience that will reflect my ideas as well as allowing for their own interpretation of the work. Untitled comes alive with the interaction and participation of the viewer whose mind may wander in the way that mine often does while working with my hands.
Informed by my interest in and study of biology and environmental studies, my work is based largely on biological forms, both macro and microscopic. I am interested in questioning our blind faith in scientific process and trust in science and technology as a quick fix to any problem. I wish to evoke the thought, affect or emotion often ignored in scientific exploration thanks to its obsession with impossible goals of objectivity. I am interested in blurring the boundaries between the macrocosmic and the microcosmic, nature and culture, the body in relation to the object and by doing so encourage viewers to explore these issues. Although concept is important in my work, I am committed to exploring materiality, color and form as a way of both conveying concept and creating a point of departure with which to create a dialogue with the viewer. I work with painting, drawing and sculpture, choosing the medium that best represents my ideas. My paintings and drawings are mostly abstract, calling to mind natural, biological and scientific systems of representation. In my sculptural works I use delicate, flimsy or ephemeral materials to question traditional notions of aesthetic quality, the importance of authorship and longevity of the art object. Through my use of non-traditional materials, I pay homage to female artists of the past who were excluded from the formal training of the male dominated art world.
Kyla Van Maanen
My work is influenced by my exploration of biological and ecological systems and my fascination with natural history. Through an investigation of the subtle beauty in plant and animal life forms, I intend for viewers to take a closer look at the intricate and ornate detail in the natural world. Influenced by a family of artists, I have kept sketchbooks throughout my life and documented my travels through drawings and writing. My recent work is influenced by memories and photographs I took during a five-month stay in Costa Rica, a country full of astounding biological diversity. With meticulous, topographical line work and close attention to detail, I depict both rare and mundane biological phenomena in ink and pencil.
My work is a visual exploration of the processes by which the mind constructs the world—the negotiations with knowledge, memories, feelings, impulses and desires that constitute our sense of self. The notion of history as a continuously shifting understanding of our position in time and space is utilized as the framework for the unfolding of these concepts—history provides the geology upon which humanity ultimately constructs its identity. Informing the content of my pieces is a fascination with the role science plays in the endless oscillation between opposing viewpoints observed in the evolution of human ideas. From a very early age, my interests have been fueled by a great curiosity and objective examination of the natural world and the creatures inhabiting it. On the canvas, ideological arrivals and departures are reenacted both as an acknowledgment of inherited conversations, as well as in a bid to achieve that—perhaps ultimately unachievable—solace that comes from addressing a problem in a way that transcends the materiality of the work.
As a photographer, I am fascinated with vision. It began as a simple interest in how natural light is transformed through the camera lens onto film—an interest in the difference between how we see "reality" in person and in photographs. The sets and scenarios I constructed in my photographs explore notions of vision, seeing, visibility and looking – the difference between passively receiving images and actively looking. I play off these ideas through my very formal photographic process and presentation. I incorporate visual puns to push the viewer to further question conventional ways of seeing. I am especially concerned with how the viewer looks at a photograph. I present posing figures whose ability to gaze out at the viewer has been taken away from them—I intentionally place the viewer in this uncomfortable, voyeuristic position so they must begin to question how and what they are seeing and its implications. It is a means of exploring our relation to privacy in the technological world in which we live.