Yoonmi Nam | Delivered and Discarded
- Meet & Greet and Artist Q&A: Saturday, September 10, 2-4pm
- Exhibition Dates: September 10 - October 16, 2022
Gallery hours: Saturday & Sunday 12-6 or by appointment
I observe the things around me. I am deeply aware of the presence of objects that we handle, consume, display, and discard. I am drawn to them especially when they subtly suggest a sense of time that seems both temporary and lasting. There is truth and honesty in time, as all of us share the fate of impermanence. But the way we surround ourselves with collections of things, it is as if we feel a sense of permanence through these comforts and arrangements. In my work, I make images and forms that highlight everyday objects, spaces, events, and routines, that while insignificant and mundane, allow us to notice both the stillness and the passage of time.
Like many people during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, my husband and I stayed in our small house and relied on deliveries to sustain us. Every week, delivery boxes and plastic containers of varying sizes and shapes from local restaurants, shops, and online stores were left at our front door. I developed a routine of disinfecting them and then breaking down the boxes and other packaging materials to recycle them. It became a consuming part of my daily activity because if neglected, the boxes and plastic containers would start to take over the small space that we lived in. In the process of handling these objects for recycling, I noticed interesting shapes and began to collect them.
I am a collector of trash. My collection of flattened-out boxes became templates that I used to trace their outline shapes onto Tyvek sheets. The Tyvek sheet surfaces were first painted with Sumi ink and sprayed with the alcohol-based sanitizers that I had used to disinfect the surfaces of our deliveries. When mists of this spray land on the Sumi ink surfaces, it reacts with the still wet ink and makes visible the trace of my disinfecting action. Using my various box templates, I traced their shapes and made the necessary cuts and folds to imitate the original boxes. Using these ink and alcohol-stained cut-out shapes, I made studies of different arrangements and conditions. At times the box shape remained tethered to the rest of the Tyvek sheet, and at other times, different shapes of flatted-out boxes were stacked in a small pile, as if they were to be taken out to be discarded.
The plastic containers are designed to be useful for very specific and brief tasks. They were designed to keep fragile or temporary items protected, such as eggs, covid tests, take-out food, and Girl Scout cookies. I am interested in these objects as cultural artifacts of our present time. I am also interested in the contradicting sense of time that these objects inherently possess as materials and in their functions. The ceramic objects are castings of the negative spaces of various plastic packages and they become indexical signs of these disposable objects. These cast porcelain pieces are glazed with traditional Korean celadon glaze to further the conversation with history, culture, time, and identity.
Yoonmi Nam is an artist born in Seoul, South Korea, and has studied in Korea, Canada, US, and Japan. Yoonmi is interested in the observation and depiction of everyday objects and occurrences, especially when they subtly suggest contradictions - a perception of time that feels both temporary and lasting and a sense of place that feels both familiar and foreign. Growing up as an only child with working parents, she often engaged in quiet observations of things around her. Experiences of living in disparate cultures with different people and their histories allowed her to notice what often is unobserved in one’s own familiar spaces. She works in traditional printmaking processes such as mokuhanga (Japanese-style water-based woodblock printing) and lithography to make imagery as well as explore other materials such as clay, glass, and paper to make three-dimensional still lifes.
Yoonmi received her MFA degree from the Rhode Island School of Design and BFA degree from Hong-Ik University in Seoul, Korea. She was awarded residencies at Mokuhanga Innovation Laboratory in Japan three times (2004, 2012, 2019) to study traditional Japanese woodblock printing techniques and is the recipient of the Keiko Kadota Award for Advancement of Mokuhanga. She has participated in artist residencies at Brandywine Workshop and Archives in Philadelphia, Frans Masereel Centrum in Belgium, Kala Art Institute in California, Vermont Studio Center, and a 3-year studio residency at Studios Inc. in Kansas City. Her work is in the collections of the RISD Museum, RI; Spencer Museum of Art, KS; and the Hawai’i State Art Museum, HI; among others, and has shown her work in over 20 solo exhibitions and 180 group exhibitions both nationally and internationally. Yoonmi is a professor of printmaking at the University of Kansas.