When Thought Becomes Experience
Curated by SOOJUNG HYUN
JANUARY 28 – FEBRUARY 19, 2023
Opening Reception – Saturday, January 28, 2023, 4 – 7 pm
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE—PS122 Gallery is pleased to present, When Thought Becomes Experience, a project curated by Soojung Hyun with seven artists who participated in the 2022 Painting Space 122 Project Studio Residency Program. This exhibition examines the variations in multiple mediums which are deeply connected with the artists’ methodology in the context of our daily lives. The exhibition is on view from January 28 – February 19, 2023.
For many artists – whether they function as painters, sculptors, musicians, poets, dancers, or any combination of the above – their engagement with what they do has the potential to awaken creative energies to see the world differently. Some artists take their inspiration from the small things of everyday life, which they transform into their work. Artists’ traits and qualities lead to a creative life. They are determined, resourceful, open-minded, compliant with ambiguity, independent, and self-reliant. They are willing to work for the sake of their art. They are self-sacrificing and self-demanding. In the process, their work contributes to our society in ways that heighten our levels of consciousness in everyday life. The featured seven artists’ works embody artistic, tactile, and visual senses, which convey their thoughts, feelings, and emotions. On the other hand, their work puts forth a compelling fusion of artistic endeavors and sensitivity. Their efforts expand our experiences.
What does it mean “when thought becomes experience?” We might say that various thoughts arise and disappear countless times. The artists gather their thoughts into their inner repositories and assemble them. Making art is the visualization of an intangible idea in the physical world. While thoughts are intangible, they belong to the world of concepts. The artwork exists in the physical world. Viewers can experience material things through the five general senses connected to our emotions. While these two worlds, thought and experience (reason and emotion) are in separate worlds, they are also connected. When sublimated into an artist’s work, they are combined, not separated.
It is the privilege of artists to visualize ideas and create something they can share with others. During the residency program, the participant artists could focus on their lives as artists while simultaneously creating art. The works featured in this project may inspire us to think in different ways rather than drift into habits of repetition. It is easy to fall into the trap of repetition that prevents us from focusing on the present. We know the teaching that we must face the present moment to avoid familiar habits. As the philosopher monk Thich Nhat Hanh said, “Life is only possible in the present moment.” Encountering an artist’s work is one of the ways we live fully in the moment. Those who see the present in fundamentally new ways often inspire us to live with greater fulfillment. The variations fused in multiple mediums in the show suggest various answers and guideboards to capture their responses.
Cair Crawford is an artist who profoundly understands painting through the visibility of the painting process. Crawford keeps little things that happen by collecting her thoughts and turning them into experiences as part of her work. The concept of the canon, previously respected in art history, is no longer an essential value to her. Instead, the motivation she attempts is the artist’s presence on the unstretched canvas. Although her pieces seem very neutral and calm, they resonate significantly with the accumulation of power that stores the record of time.
Grant Landreth’s work offers a genuine understanding of time and space. He cuts paper boxes from everyday consumer products into thin and long pieces and uses them as the weft for his weaving work. Through these fragments in our daily lives, he captures the meaning of existence. He uses the weave of tradition to entwine his ideas like a tapestry. However, his work can be said to be neither painting nor weaving but somewhere in between. Unfolding Target Reusable Bag (2022) in this exhibition is a work of bringing daily consumables as materials for his work. The shopping bag on the wall shows a simple and clear view of what we are doing and want.
Amir Hariri is an Iranian American artist. His current work is related to his multidisciplinary background. Especially his understanding of the structural design of architecture leads to a geometric interpretation of the mechanical images and fragments of buildings. The energy in his work extends the imagination of modernist art in the early 20th century. The geometric rigidity and organic authenticity of decomposition present a coexisting and unseparated situation among past, present, and future. According to Amir: “By blurring the boundaries between progress and ruin, I observe the misguided inevitability of evolution. This post-futurist viewpoint is a corollary to idealist mid-century thought and its embrace of utopian visions.”
Ryan Sarah Murphy is an artist focused on condensing and refining fragments of thought. The product packaging boxes she uses as materials are collected in the corner of the building daily in the flood of online orders. She uses unpainted cardboard, the original color from the packaging box. Only the product name on the package can be torn off and removed. Through the colorful boxes, she collages memories of her everyday life. The memories are not concrete as having a shape but are combined into abstract compositions. Tracts (2022), composed of twenty-eight pieces, is an ongoing project. The small-sized work has bright and positive energy. After the closed period of the pandemic, the artist’s imagination sublimates a message of hope for us all.
Eozen Agopian is an Armenian Greek artist with dual citizenship in Greece and the US. Most of her works are composed of colors, fabrics, and threads. Her materials, which internally connect the flow of tradition, are related to her life. In her works, the skeins of dreams are woven from storing memories that are continually released. Strength and softness coexist in joint pieces of thread and cloth. Her needle and thread work becomes a metaphor, her artistic endeavors make the different elements of the world connected, sublimated, and harmonized rather than resisting each other.
Masumi Sakagami is a Japanese artist who was born in Nara, Japan. She was raised in cultural traditions like Buddhism and calligraphy. Her work fuses abstract paintings with classical Japanese calligraphy, focusing on the movements and versatility of line compositions since she moved to the States. The artist says about her work, “The soul of my art embodies the ongoing vigor of SUMI art and expresses my passions and desires.” The artists express their inner world through materials. Still, on the other hand, according to Asian tradition, not only the artist’s intention but also elements such as ink, paper, and water are all connected to the creation of the work. It means that more artistic sublimation will be achieved if the artists produce with inner purity rather than being forced to express their desire.
Svetlana Bailey is an artist who works with photography as her primary medium, but her photographic work collaborates with other mediums such as sculpture, installation, and performance art. Rather than taking an existing object as her subject, she has taken an object created by the artist’s intention. She made a silicone mold of her bust, a few hand molds, and a leg mold to cast ice replicas. And she asks a question, “Who wants to live forever?” A series of ice sculptures shows our bodies are incredibly vulnerable. Another series of her work, “Would the sun still rise,” captures her body on light-sensitive paper. She made the work in the desert while the sun rose. Sunlight traced the outlines of her body. Her work has a unique authenticity that comes from capturing the finiteness of life. Her work perfectly captures the moment, as Thich Nhat Han said.
Participating Artists: Eozen Agopian, Svetlana Bailey, Cair Crawford, Amir Hariri, Grant Landreth, Ryan Sarah Murphy, and Masumi Sakagami
When Thought Becomes Experience
Curated by Soojung Hyun
January 28 – February 19, 2023
150 First Avenue
New York, NY 10009
Free and Open to the Public, Saturday + Sunday, 1–6pm
Masking strongly recommended
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Soojung Hyun Ph.D. has pursued parallel careers as a curator, program organizer, and lecturer. She completed her dissertation entitled, “A Study on the Appropriation of Androgyny and its Characteristics in Marcel Duchamp’s Work” at Chosun University in South Korea in 2010. The important metaphysical concept of “androgyny” in the Eastern sense is a “reconciliation of opposites,” such as the Asian spiritual balance and harmony, Yin and Yang in Taoism. Since then, she has expanded her interests to embrace the intersections between Eastern and Western cultures in the inevitable transformation of national and cultural identities in an increasingly global world. She has taught Asian Art and Contemporary Art at Montclair State University, New York City College of Technology, and Manhattanville College as an adjunct and contributed to the Archive of Korean Artists in America (AKAA). Hyun worked for the exhibitions such as Blood and Tears: Portrayals of Gwangju’s Democratic Struggle (2022) at Anya and Andrew Shiva Gallery as a co-curator with Thalia Vracholopoulos; Noodles, Rice, and Bread (2022) at Artego Gallery in New York; Coherence and Context (2020) at AHL Project Space, New York.