Koo Seunghwui

website: www.kooseunghwui.com

social media: @kooseunghwui

city: New York City

Koo Seunghwui is a sculptor based in New York and born in South Korea. She uses resin, acrylic, plaster, clay, and mixed media to create her works. The pig is a recurring image in her art, a figure that featured prominently throughout her upbringing.

It’s hard not to instantaneously love Koo. She is worldly and charismatic, has a playful spirit and underlying strength. Her work is born of love and precision.

Her beautiful studio is immaculate, filled with tiny piglets and biographic sketches. A space made possible through Chashama Organization. Excitedly, she shared the most authentic restaurant in Koreatown as well as her  upcoming exhibitions which include a few awards!

ART

When I was young, my parents owned a butcher shop. During that time, I saw a lot of butchered pig heads. In Korea, when one opens a new business, buys a new car, or starts a big new endeavor, it is tradition to have a celebration with a pig's head in the center, while money is put into the pig's mouth. The person then bows and prays for a good and comfortable life.

There is a belief that when one dreams of a pig, the next day one should buy a lottery ticket and put a lucky pig charm on their cell phone. The dream of a pig is a precursor to material wealth. This can be seen in Korean culture, as people can be seen with some ornament that is of a pig.

However, there is also another different connotation with the pig.  The pig can also symbolize greed. We live in a world where money rules. The distinction between good and evil is blurred.  We live in a world where philosophy has no place, and only material beauty matters.

During an exhibition or when someone sees my work, and I hear that it has somehow touched them or even made them say something positive about it, that to me is a successful piece. My work is communicating with the viewer and when I can see or hear that the viewer has connected with my work, this gives me great pleasure.

I feel my artwork is a part of me and on a personal level, my artwork is a means of communication to my audience. Who I am, my thoughts and what I want to say, are components of my artwork.

STUDIO

I had a solo exhibition that was featured by Chashama organization, a nonprofit dedicated to helping artists. Through Chashama I found my studio. They happened to have an opening very near where I had exhibited. I’ve been here since.

I very much feel the benefit of having an assigned creative space.

Having all my work in my space, it gives me my identity and also a sense of path or direction from just seeing my works. It is my place of creative thought and also inspires me. My studio is one of the things close to my heart. I feel my studio represents the ‘real’ me. My work is my physical body, while my studio is my heart.

I must have a clean desk space. The other part of my studio might be disheveled but my desk must be free of clutter, even if I am not using the desk at the moment.

NEW YORK

Before I came to New York, I was in Korea. I had only known about New York through television, mass media, and some professors. I had heard the grandest stories and such fantastic things! I was just waiting for the opportunity to be able to come to New York. As soon as I graduated from college in Korea, I had an exhibition which I was featured in. This was a big deal for me at the time, as I had my first exposure in the spotlight with the local tv network and such. It was soon after this moment that I packed up my bags and left for New York. I had naively thought I would be the female version of Andy Warhol and New York would embrace me in its loving arms. I soon found out that this fantasy was just that, a fantasy. It took me a long time to actually get  started on my artwork.

How has  living here influenced your work

As soon as I arrived in Port Authority Bus Station, I began to absorb and feel my surroundings. The lively hustle and energy of NYC gets my creative energy flowing and, is also the subject of many of my artworks. The daily interactions and happenings all around me, especially in a city like New York, where so much is happening. It’s also a big difference between my countryside hometown in Korea. It also gives me some comparisons and different points of view. There is a unique diversity in New York which always gives me ideas and makes me think. This reminds me sometimes of how big the world is, and how much I have yet to see.

I am from Daegu, Korea, which is renowned for its spicy food. I have almost never found any place here in the U.S. that could come close to matching the spiciness and flavor from my hometown cooking. This new place that I have found however, has somehow managed to find that flavor and level of spicy and brought it to New York. It is on 32nd street, between 5th and Broadway in Koreatown. The restaurant is called Yupdduck. The dish to get is the spicy rice cake. It’s called ddukbogi. This dish must be ordered extra spicy.

UPCOMING

Solo exhibition: 11th Annual Betsy Meyer Memorial Exhibition and Award, Main Line Art Center, PA.

March 9 - April 21, 2015

746 Panmure Road, Haverford, PA, 19041

Group exhibition: ‘Bakers Dozen’, an exhibition of the Winners for the 2015 Artists of the Month’, Art Guild, NJ.

February 15 - March 12, 2015

1670 Irving Street Rahway, NJ, 07065

Opening reception: Sunday, February 15th, 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Winter Art Auction, Chashama and MFTA, Chashama Gallery, Paddle8, NY

January 28 - February 11, 2015

461 W. 126th Street (between Amsterdam and Morningside Ave

http://www.chashama.org/event/chashama_and_mfta

Near the end of his career, Rothko, abandoned all attempts at responding to those who inquired after the meaning and purpose behind his paintings. Finally responding that silence is 'so accurate'.

How would you describe the meaning and purpose behind your work?

My works may come across as having a deep and critical tone with regards to the subject matter. However, rather than being seen as a condemnation, I hope that forgiveness and inspired thought can be realized from the viewer. Through my art, I hope to connect with not only New Yorkers, but everyone in the world. My hope is to provide solace to those that need it from their tiring and difficult live through my works.


[January 2015]