Aggregation 04-ma023, ©Kwang Young Chun
This summer I’m taking a class called Hand Papermaking for Artists. It’s being taught by one of my favorite teachers at MSCD, Bonnie Ferrill Roman, who is also a fabulous artist. She uses handmade paper, branches, and other objects from nature in her sculpture work.
The class has been a lot of fun and very informative so far. In addition to hands-on experimentation with different ways of making and using paper (who knew there were so many!), the class also requires doing research on papermaking and artists who work in this media. I had to do a short research paper on an artist of my choice, and I chose Kwang-Young Chun. For several months, I have had a page with a large image of one his works torn from an issue of Artforum pinned up on my design wall. I’ve been looking at it for a long time because I find it fascinating, but now this research paper has provided a good impetus to find out more about his work and process.
Chun is a Korean artist who makes his work by wrapping small styrofoam triangles in mulberry paper taken from old books that he buys in large quantities and stores in an air-conditioned warehouse. After wrapping, each piece is tied with more paper that has been twisted into a narrow rope. Hundreds or thousands of these units are then combined into larger constructions, which might take the form of huge free-standing sculptures or low-relief wall pieces. See more of his work here, and a fabulous close-up detail here.
The areas that look like craters are created with trompe l’oeil effects rendered by varying the size and shading of the units in different areas of the piece. This is the kind of work that I find immensely satisfying. I love to imagine the endless hours and hours of patient, meditative process, wrapping and tying, and meticulous fitting of the thousands of pieces into a coherent, cohesive whole. The idea that someone would choose to spend his time in this way instead of sitting in front of a television or in a shopping mall gives me a great sense of hope and well being.