Meet

Jieun Jang

Where are you from and where do you reside?
I’m from Seoul, Korea and I’m currently living in Seoul.
How do you start a day in the studio?
The first step is organizing the workspace. Usually my studio is a bit distant from being neat, so I begin by getting enough room on my desk, arranging materials, notes, and sketches, and at last, a glass of water on the side. My day is usually a train of organizing thoughts. I boil hot tea in between to fuel the ideas, then go back to work, roll over my thoughts with some snacks, and get back to work. I usually leave before it’s dark. But if I have company, we have dinner together and work a bit longer.
How do you choose your materials?
I look for materials with traces of people’s touch, friendly things from life. I like to use everyday objects like paper, pencils, or even a piece of wood chip: things that are so familiar in our lives, and those that have their own life.
You have a particularly unique process for creating your artwork. What led you to this process and how did you know it was the right one to pursue?
Using small mundane pieces to build a big picture has long been my theme. The idea always interested me that observing process and paying attention to small things are what builds life, like finding puzzle pieces to complete an unknown picture. I began to see each and every line and touch on paper as a single puzzle piece. Lines that are made from folding paper and marks from my fingers are added, and such process captures even the smallest traces. As a result the paper holds all the movements and steps the paper has gone through.
Slant
The idea always interested me that observing process and paying attention to small things are what builds life, like finding puzzle pieces to complete an unknown picture. I began to see each and every line and touch on paper as a single puzzle piece. — Jieun Jang
When did you begin your current practice?
The themes of my work have been consistent, though my medium has changed. Before, I used to work with painting with paper collages. These older works are colorful, abstract paintings. At some point I decided to go back to the initial idea, simplifying the colors and bringing back realistic figures. It was a lot of thinking and little art making. After a year, I finally got back to simple graphite drawings and found the visual language I work with these days. The graphite trace drawings, along with photography and video documentation, began in 2013.
Do the materials you use inform your decision-making process when it comes to creating the piece?
For drawings, materials rarely change the work direction. However, for sculptures and installations, I often use found objects, such as wood chips, and those objects and their personalities do affect visual direction of the final work.
Do you find that your location strongly influences the direction of your work? Where do you feel you create your strongest work?
The mood of the works sometimes changes when I travel to different locations and countries, but the direction of the works remains the same. My work develops best when I have enough time to think alone, but I also find good influences from family and friends. There’s a good balance between doses of solidarity and socializing.
Do you admire or draw inspiration from any of your peers who are also working now? Have you ever collaborated, or would you? How solitary is your art-making process?
I have little experience in collaborating other artists. I tend to isolate myself to concentrate, but the few collaborative experiences I had were quite enjoyable, and I look forward to have more opportunities. Working with other artists, especially those who use different media, such as ceramics or even food styling, introduces me to new ideas and ways of communication.
What’s one of your favorite objects you own? What’s the story?
A small brown Spanish jar. It was a gift from a stranger I met in Spain. My luggage had gone missing, and he gave me the jar as a consolation. The jar reminds me of the care and my gratefulness from a stranger, and encourages me to readily help those in need, even when they are strangers.
Are you influenced by any author or non-visual artist? Are you influenced by any artist that does something completely different than you?
I like the poems of No-Hae Park. I think poetry is painting drawn with words; it evokes emotions, thoughts, gestures, and other views in a way paintings do. Park also takes photos of ordinary people’s ordinary lives, and reading his views and thoughts is inspiring.
What is the most difficult part of the artistic process for you?
The early stage of art making is often the most difficult part. Starting a new work is full of excitement, but transferring the raw idea to physical work is often disappointing. I can ask someone for advice, but in the end, I have to solve it. When I’m stuck, I would rather leave the piece alone and work on another project before coming back later with a fresh mind and try again. The process of making art is solving problems and answering questions. Sometimes the solving and answering part enjoyable, but sometimes it is the struggle I have to bear.
How do you incorporate chance in your creative process?
The key elements for my drawings are taking chances. What I want is to focus not on the results I initially planned, but the natural process the works take me through and the outcomes earned from the process. When I fold paper, I don’t exactly know what shapes will appear.
Slant
The process of making art is solving problems and answering questions. Sometimes the solving and answering part enjoyable, but sometimes it is the struggle I have to bear. — Jieun Jang
How important is spontaneity in your art?
I think spontaneity is quite important in my work: I believe it can have more strength than intended direction. Spontaneous ideas, materials, or events often lead to better results. At the same time, I think spontaneous actions also come from my long-collected ideas and mental simulations. It is like digesting raw ideas, or planting seeds of spontaneity. I don’t know what flowers I will get from the seeds, but when the time comes, they spring out.
What’s next for you?
The nearest upcoming project is Street Museum Project in September where I plan to work with an ongoing installation project. As a long-term goal, I will continue my study with my drawing language, as well as installation and video.

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