A cube called Sung-Rim Park
Sung-Rim Park, who makes atypical shapes with thread and needle,
brings various synesthetic images of the night sky into her work.
The needle penetrating through the canvas in Sung-Rim Park’s work process appears like the hand of a player plucking the strings of a Korean zither. Park completes interesting works with unfamiliar craft materials called ‘textile’ said that, “I wanted to make a drawing on canvas using thread like a painter who draws with a single stroke of the brush”. This year is more meaningful than ever for the artist who works as the 10th resident artist at the Seoul Art Space Sindang. After she completed her doctoral program, she has been working hard and spent ‘deeper’ time than ever before by participating in handcraft art exhibitions like the Cheongju Craft Biennale. Park gets her motifs from the night sky from such things as the milky way, the constellations, and the movement of planets, and completes formative objects by weaving and sewing thread.
You work with ‘thread’, among them ‘textile’, as a main material. What makes you do this type of work?
When I learned Apparel Studies at university, the element of ‘thread’ was always around me. And the art field I most wanted to enter and study was textile arts. Thread, needle and fabric frequently appear in my major courses, and I tried to make works that have strong ‘formative elements’ with stand-out lines.
What is the charm of ‘thread’?
Thread to me is the craft material which I can most neatly draw when I join dots together. I often came to use thread because the element of the dot is made when I tied thread together in a space, or a shape of an indeterminate form is created when I pile threads up, and there is a spatial story supported by temporality when I collect the shapes. Lines are certainly important, but the knots are important to me in the same sense. Seen in terms such as the history of textiles and the origin of architecture, its not an exaggeration to say that human civilization started with the knot – a very primitive technique. However, it is the material most easily accessed in our everyday life, and it is also possible to build up from flat surface into three dimensions and space. I think thread is the most perfect material to make dots, lines, and sides which are the basis of my formative works.
It is in your representative painting works where you complete an abstract image by threading a needle based on a canvas covered with cotton cloth. It is also interesting that knotting is done on the front the canvas.
When long stretched lines bend once, smaller lines are made. I tie a knot once at the vertexes, the crossing points, where the lines meet. Personally, I call the knotting technique is a ‘needlepoint drawing’. Some people have a critical view because the technique is not a traditional needlepoint. However, I hope my work will be seen as an independent genre that draws a line with thread rather than an embossing style of work.
She dyes brown thread with an ink stick and use it as her main material ‘thread’. The dyed thread, formed with an ink stick containing glue, is reborn as a very unique material which is charcoal black – close to a complete black – that shines in the light.
There is an abstract pattern formed by several atypical shapes on the canvas completed with ‘needlepoint drawing’.
When I think there is no more place to go while I am drawing several lines with thread, then I tie a knot on the back of the canvas. For me, the act of sewing and threading give comfort like a sort of healing. In early days, I express a constellation like the big dipper, then at some point I thought that it was too direct an expression. So, it naturally developed into the atypical shape work and reached this point. In the abstract, I express the landscape of the night and the phenomena that I experience, and I want to talk about them through various shapes.
What type of shape would the figure Sung-Rim Park be likened to?
It might be a square. (laugh) Attire, thoughts, interests. When we think all these things are revealed in the work, I think that I am a square-human whose four sides are the same. I look like a very bright character for others, but I am very fastidious to myself. Many aspects are stuck in a mold. In my early works, I showed many pieces with this awareness in the form of squares and cubes. In fact, I started the works capturing the night sky or unknown landscapes because I wanted to break mold. While thinking about my works after studying in London, I accidently looked upon the night sky in my hometown and wanted to break out of the ‘square’ life. It’s because the universe is infinite.
I think the current work is a very special world for you as you got a lot of inspiration from the ‘night sky’. At the solo exhibition at Gallery-O last year, you said, “By connecting everyday activities, such as looking at the night sky, to formative activities, I controlled my thoughts and reflected upon myself and linked a maturing life through becoming a more fully developed person.”
Living in nature was daily life for me as I grew up in the countryside. But it was so desolate when I came to the city. So, the comforting images from habitually looking at trees and the night sky were naturally expressed in my works and expanded into a place for resting the mind and a space for thoughts. If I put the night sky as a mere element in my early works, I now make a story about the space where the stars exist. I show the space of the night sky with a flat surface work and the feeling of exploring this space with the installation work.
The varied sizes of ‘spheres’ made of weaving threads seem to be a work that intended to the viewers to have synesthetic experiences that they are walking or strolling in the night sky.
The installation artwork is good for making viewers experience their five senses. After first determining the size of the sphere, deciding the starting point, I then liberally fill up the empty space with knots. If I twist the thread only once, then it lacks the feeling of knots. So, I twist it repeatably to increase the cubic effect. I keep the feeling of twisting the thread, which has a wire in it, once or twice. First, I draw a cross-section shape and then apply it to the canvas work, fuse them to make a framework, and complete it by weaving the thread on it. Then it becomes a three-dimensional work.
The color of the thread is profound and mysterious. Rather than a pitch black, it feels like a charcoal black depending on the light and feels slightly shiny depending on the angle.
I use brown thread that I dye myself. But if I mix chemical materials, its color is murky and the smell is bad. So, I use Chinese ink. Ink sticks have a glue component so that without any other glue products I can get a basic rigidity and slightly-shining thread.
After studying Textile Art in Korea, you headed over to London to major in Textile Design and Fine Arts.
I wanted to study the materials that strengthened the shape elements such as string-like thread or paper a little more in depth. I studied Art Management at Goldsmith’s College because I also got interested in running a gallery, and I later transferred to Chelsea to major in Fine Arts. In Korea, people saw my works as crafts just because I majored in Textile Art. However when I was in England, I liked that people regarded my material as just textile, and I was ‘artist who made formative works’ without any bias The opportunity to develop my work, to gain the confidence to work as a full-time artist, came from experiencing a little more in my life studying overseas it seems.
What meaningful projects were turning points for your work?
It was my first solo exhibition in 2010. It made me recognize the identity of my work. Like a tree that plunges its roots straight into the ground, my works have expanded as if they were a variation of my first solo exhibition. I showed my most favorite series ‘White Forest’, in which the work expresses a tree, that I used to see through the window whenever I wanted to take a rest in college, into a tetrahedron artwork. This is the work I made by crumpling up cotton yarn in cotton form by not processed and knotting individually. Also, the light ivory color stem reminds us of branches.
My Universe (2018)’ which she made by weaving textiles, is suggestive of branches. This is the formative work expanded from her first work ‘White Forest’.
In the <Unpredictable Work> you showed at the Cheongju International Craft Biennale this year, the installation, where the light transmitted between the atypical shapes makes a shadow and creates another form of shape, was interesting.
Visually, I express stars and planets in round shape. The mathematics with which to measure nature is geometry, and I thought it would be fun if I expressed the space in the universe with shapes I thought up. I thought that would be good to express the unknown space in ‘unpredictable’ shapes that one is truly not accustomed seeing, and made atypical shapes that were not calculated.
How is the life at the Seoul Art Space Sindang?
There are artists from various disciplines around, so it is good that I can get a detailed help with new techniques which I can combine in my work process. There are mostly young artists in their early 30s, so I also can catch the latest trends and get lots of energy.
You are called by many titles such as a textile artist, a formative arts artist, and a tapestry artist. What type of artists do you wish to be called?
Wouldn’t it be nice to be called a ‘textile artist’ or ‘a person who does formative work with thread’?
박성림 | Sung-Rim Park | Textile Artist
Sung-Rim Park, who uses ‘a needle like a brush and thread like paint’, works diversely from plane to installation with thread as the main material. The atypical sphere and stitch drawing work completed through dots, lines and sides is a story about the unknown world of the night sky. After she finished her bachelor and master’s program at the Ewha Womans University, she majored in Arts Management at Goldsmiths, University of London and Fine Art in Chelsea, London in 2012. After she came back to Seoul in 2014 and completed her Doctoral program in Textile Arts at Ewha Womans University. She is currently a visiting professor in Artistic Crafts Design at Suwan University and works as an artist at the same time. Starting with her first solo exhibition <Construction> held at Topohaus in 2010, she participated in more than 10 solo exhibitions and many group exhibitions, such as <White Lines> at A&D Gallery in London in 2013 and <Deep-Sky Object> at the Gallery-O in 2018. Crown Haitai Art Valley, A&D Gallery in London, and many others own her works. She is working as a 10th resident artist at the Seoul Art Space Sindang in 2019.
매거진 <아트마인>에 게재된 기사의 모든 사진과 텍스트는 저작권법에 의해 보호되는 아트마이닝㈜의 저작물입니다.
사전 동의 및 출처 표기 없는 무단 복제 및 전재를 금합니다.
Artwork Images © Park SungRim – ARTMINING, SEOUL, 2019
PHOTO © ARTMINING – magazine ARTMINE / Juyeon Lee