Today we’re excited to feature the sculptural work of Atlanta artist Song Kang. Kang currently attends the Rhode Island School of Design where she is pursuing a degree in illustration. Click here to see more of her art, including her incredible drawings and illustrations: http://www.song-kang.com/home/
SAI: Can you tell me where the idea for your Vernacular sculpture series came from? What was your thought process as you were creating these fantastical environments/creatures?
Song Kang: I’ve always enjoyed creating a setting. It is my belief that while a story may have an ending, the environment will continue growing. Even without a character, the setting can evoke a certain mood where the viewer can formulate their own narratives. In a way, the environment is a character in its own right. Vernacular architectures exemplify man’s abilities to adapt to his surroundings and build with his environment. This notion not only relates to my practice of using recyclable materials and local resources for my work but also my love for creating a “personified” environment. The Vernacular series is the idea of combining the character and the environment into one cohesive object. It is a study on the idea of coexistence.
SAI: Your 360 Degrees cube project shows off your incredible attention to detail. Can you tell us about the inspiration for that project and the work that went into it?
Kang: I’ve drawn and made so many nature scenes, but I rarely think of all the aspects that go into designing a world. The 360 Degree project was done for a class called “Visible Cities” taught by professor Jean Blackburn at RISD. We reference the book Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino. This book consists of short stories and prose poems about various imaginative cities and has been used to explore the vast potentialities of how a city is defined.
The city I imagined for my world is a city surrounded by coral. I wondered what sort of atmosphere, species, and architecture would exist in a world with coral surrounding its perimeter. Each face of the cube describes a different characteristic of the world through various methods of observations. There are slides, a diorama, an accordion book, illustrations, and model specimens. The 360 Degree is essentially a three dimensional scientific journal.
SAI: A lot of your sculptural work seeks to depict the natural world using everyday objects or recycled waste. You’ve said that you’re trying to create a new form of camouflage, rendering your materials unrecognizable. Are those projects commenting on environmentally-friendly art practices? Considering the toxicity of some art materials, what responsibilities do you believe artists have (or don’t have) to the environment?
Kang: I like to think of my works as revamped primary school art projects. The papier-mâché, macaroni art, and toothpicks, they’re all remnants of elementary art school projects that I didn’t get to fully realize until I got into college. I went to a public school from kindergarten to high school, and like many public schools, there were limited resources available especially for the arts. Teachers and students had to be clever with the materials they were given.
My use of recyclable materials and waste is not only a commentary on resourcefulness and affordability in the arts, but also a challenge of the imagination. They are studies of potentiality behind commonplace materials – the idea of creating sophisticated art without the expenses. The use of these materials is in no way revolutionary and it can even be called primitive, but I hope that through my work, I can stimulate a conversation. Affordability has always affected a person’s vision, so I am simply promoting the idea that instead of increasing the funding for the arts, artists and educators could use the limitation to their advantage. Rather than using eco-friendly practices under the pressures of moral obligation, artists can think of this as a personal challenge and the restraint of resources as a platform for creativity.
SAI: Who or what inspires you?
Kang: A range of artworks inspires me, from the old sketchbooks of Renaissance painters to the tight optical illusions of M.C. Escher. I really enjoy reading folktales, fairy tales, and other fantastical, dream-like scenarios because they leave a great deal to the imagination of the reader. Many things are not clearly defined, and I can use my own interpretation to create a derivative of a story that could potentially become an original story. I love details, textures, and interesting forms. Coincidentally, nature, environments, and older buildings (my preferred subject matters) have all of these things.
SAI: What are you currently working on?
Kang: I am currently exploring methods of integrating 2D and 3D art. Relief art, cut paper, pop-up books, etc are all examples of successful integration of the 2D and the 3D. However, I am particularly focusing on finding a balance between my flat ink drawings and my textural 3D environments.