An art graduate in her twenties walks into the woods, a big log on one hand and a magnifying glass on the other. She is chasing the sun to burn the log’s annual rings by using the magnifying glass.
She keeps walking with the heaviness of equipment, sun and life. Park Hye-soo (’97, Sculpture) never knew it would take her an entire year to complete “Time for Depth.” With this art piece, she made her official debut as an artist in 2004.
The incidence explains the unique art world of the winner of the 2014 Song Eun Art Award awarded by SongEun Culture Foundation. The foundation nominates talented artists and supports them to hold free exhibition for two weeks in SongEun Art Space.
However, her own view on art was not formed overnight. After graduating university, she went to a graduate school (’00, Sculpture) to further study the field. Then she worked as a high school art teacher because she had thought that she is just a normal art graduate among a flood of talented young artists.
However, after all these years trying various kinds of art-related careers, she decided to become an “author” who originates and gives existence to something.
She believed that the process of thinking and creating is the heart of the art world.
Park worked on many projects about dream and love. What is special about her projects is that the artist herself does not perfectly understand her art work, because it is not only about herself, but also about the audience.
“I want to ask the public to contemplate and figure out something about their lives,” Park said. “Sometimes when I do not know about a subject in depth, I ask for help to the professionals.”
Her projects are not to show, but to motivate the audience to find their tipping points of life. To do this, she implemented more specific and realistic approach.
A small incident, the conversation that she overheard at a cafe provided her the direction of her artwork.
“The strange part was that there were 10 different groups that had sat on other tables talking and talking maybe up to thousands and millions of words,” Park said. “The conversations sounded different but they all had similar patterns.
As I listened, I got a feeling that people do not speak what they have deep inside of heart. They do not talk of difficult, tough or embarrassing subjects but instead spend time talking of something they are not genuinely interested in,” Park said.
Park added that people liked to talk of money or love.
“However, there was a conversation that did struck me,” Park said. “Two high school boys were worrying about their future and lamenting for their dream. Not to mention their content of conversation, I cannot ever forget their lethargic and gloomy faces.”
A flood of thoughts and emotions then coursed through Park’s mind.
“Suddenly, I felt a sense of responsibility as an older generation,” Park said. “I thought about what and who had made their future so dark.”
Thus she decided to set “dream” as the first subject of her project which became “Project Dialogue Vol.1-Dream Dust.”
In this project, she collected abandoned yet unattainable dreams from the conversations of public and helped people to let them go by writing them on paper and putting it in paper shredders.
As aforementioned, not only what people have in mind inspires Park, but also something that the public owns sometimes becomes the art piece itself. For “Project Dialogue Vol.3-Goodbye to Love,” Park collected objects people got from the past or past lovers and named them “The Broken Hearted Collection.”
Park has been collecting the “objects” since April 2013 and held the exhibition until September in the Museum of Art Seoul National University. The exhibition presented donated or borrowed “objects” along with their own heartbreaking stories. The objects include portrait, necklaces, underwears, perfumes, dolls and phones. Various kinds of objects show emotional, sad, confusing and sometimes abnormal sides of love.
“The most impressive object sent to me was a clock a divorced woman had received as her wedding present,” Park said. “It was sent along with the story that she got married not because of love, but age and the fantasy she had of marriage.”
Park ponders over the present and future through abandoned objects.
“I believe we can find our way for the present and future from the past,” Park said. “Humans can make the same mistakes but I try to make a better choice and be a better human being. People can learn from others’ mistakes and experiences to make better choices.”
As a female artist, Park acknowledges the discrimination society has against female artists.
‘Something that does not change will never just change’ is the right expression for the hardship of ‘female’ artists,” Park said.
However, she especially wants to share the stereotypes that the people on the field have upon Ewha graduates.
“Artists who graduated from Ewha including me want to be perfect at work,” Park said. “Furthermore, they have an idea that they should not bother others, which in turn make them hard to socialize. I wonder why we tried hard just to show we are perfect. We could have just shown a little bit of clumsy and imperfect sides and cooperate more with others.”
She added that students these days are afraid of making mistakes.
“Do not trap and shut yourself in a room to be a perfect girl,” Park said. “Mix up with all kinds of people and experience various worlds.”
Young people these days forgo love and dream for realistic reasons, or sometimes because of the “normal” standard society sets upon them. Park advises university students what she learned as an artist.
“People give up life for success and family for fame,” Park said. “The interesting fact, however, is that after we become successful, we spend large amount of time and money to get those we have neglected back. People want to be famous and successful in the first place because they want people to care about them.”
Park doubts that those feelings of love and care that are bought back cannot be as pure and genuine as those of the early years.
Also, she emphasizes the importance of being able to feel and to enjoy in young age, for feeling and emotions cannot be earned by years of experience and stable life.
“Your life is too short and precious just to make it presentable to others,” Park said. “Do not try to fumble on others to make sure you are alive. Believe in your own breath and footprints. Walk on.”