Duality in the Satirical World of Seunghwui Koo
South Korean artist Seunghwui Koo is inspired by the daily happenings of life as she experiences them from her NYC studio. Seunghwui uses resin, acrylic, plaster and clay to create satirical sculptures of pigs, playing with duality of meaning stemming from the divergent associations of ‘the pig’ as a symbol in Eastern and Western cultures. Seunghwui earned her BFA in Sculpture from Kyungpook National University. In 2017 she completed a residency at the Con Artists Collective in NYC, and has exhibited in solo and group shows in the US and internationally. Her highly collectible and award winning works are held in private collections in the US, UK, Germany, Australia, Peru, Canada, Spain and South Korea.
What are the major themes you pursue in your work?
My explanation of my work should start with my belief that ‘people are pigs’. Why are people pigs? We all have different sides to us, good or bad. We choose what side or direction to take which ends up defining us. This is where I explore some of the differences in cultures as well. In western culture, pigs are considered to have some negative connotations like greed and stubbornness, while in eastern culture, pigs are considered to be a sign of luck and good fortune. This duality in our human nature is a central theme in my works.
How did you first get interested in your medium, and what draws you to it specifically?
I had first started exploring the arts by learning painting. I then started to work with clay during my early years in art school, and this is when I was fully captivated by creating 3-D works. It was very fun and also seemed to me like an expansion of my art experience and a new world in creating. I have also been experimenting with different types of clay, glazes, and clay colors, which has invigorated me. This has been giving me numerous new ideas, which is invaluable to me.
How has your style and practice changed over the years?
My works have evolved into using more natural colors and themes, which evoke more thought and self-reflection. This is a transition, as my works used to be very colorful.
Can you walk us through your process? Do you begin with a sketch, or do you just jump in? How long do you spend on one work? How do you know when it is finished?
I do begin with small idea sketches and do as much research and preparation before starting my creating work. When I have started my work, I already have the final work imagined in my head. When I realize the final image that I had thought and planned out for my work, then I know it is finished. The time I spend on my work depends on the size of the work. However, it could take anywhere from a few days to a few months.
If you couldn’t be an artist, what would you do?
I would be an airplane pilot. I have always enjoyed looking down at the ground from the view above. And, I have always loved clouds, stars, and just being high up, is cathartic and exciting for me. I also would be able to see the Northern Lights and Arctic frequently.
Who are some of your favorite artists, and why?
One of my favorite artists is Jonas Wood. When I look at his works, I get mesmerized by the colors and looking at his work clears my mind. His works, in particular, the green colored works, have a healing effect on me.