Sook Jin Jo’s current exhibition (through May 29) at West Virginia’s Huntington Museum of Art, which features both older works and a new site-specific installation, originated with her participation in the museum’s Walter Gropius Master Artist Workshop Series. In the catalogue foreword, Margaret Mary Lane, the museum’s executive director, writes that Jo is best known for her wood works, which are composed mainly of discarded materials. This generously illustrated volume allows readers to explore the details of these beautiful sculptures; color photographs of older works are supplemented with numerous images from the current show. Short articles in English, followed by Korean translations done by Liz Kwon, Dug Jin Cho, Hyun Kyung Sung, explore Jo’s main concerns: Assemblage, Installation, Public Art, and Collage and Drawing.
In “Sook Jin Jo: The Limits of Art, the Limits of Life,” Jonathan Goodman, a regular Sculpture contributor, discusses the spiritual aspects of Jo’s work, particularly the public artworks and installations. Donald Kuspit analyzes the artist’s use of discarded wood, concluding that her work is not “junk sculpture,” but that she takes a “formalist” approach to create her “expressionist constructions.” In “Sook Jin Jo’s Journey to the Heart of the Human Spirit,” Todd Siler shares his personal reflections on viewing Jo’s installations and briefly examines the influence of Kounellis, Pollock, and Rauschenberg on her work. Robert C. Morgan, another regular writer for Sculpture, looks at Taoism in relation to the Korean-born artist’s work in his essay, “The Spokes of the Wheel: Sook Jin Jo.” Finally, Simon Baur explores the legacies of Land Art, Minimalism, and Arte Povera in Jo’s work.
Sook Jin Jo: Complete Works 1985-2011 is by no means a comprehensive or perfect document—some of the formatting is unusual, particularly in the page numbering, and the brevity of the articles leaves the reader wanting a more in-depth exploration, but it is a useful introduction to Jo, as it succinctly examines her artistic mission of “giving new life to discarded materials” and her “reverence for the spiritual in all things.”
Sook Jin Jo: Complete Works 1985-2011
catalogue of an exhibition at the Huntington Museum of Art
with texts by Jonathan Goodman, Donald Kuspit, Todd Siler, Robert C. Morgan and Simon Baur. Gyeonggi-do: Maronie Books: 2011. Softcover; 196 pages. $30.00.
To purchase please contact Huntington Museum of Art