BELLINGHAM - Internationally renowned artist Do Ho Suh’s artwork “Cause & Effect” has been commissioned for the Academic Instructional Center (AIC) West building at Western Washington University.
The first phase of the installation will begin mid-December.
The ceiling installation will be approximately 19 feet high and 8 feet across at its greatest width. As it hangs down from the ceiling of the AIC West building, it will pass through the opening or well on the third floor and extend into the second floor’s well, taking advantage of the building’s architectural design allowing light to pass from floor to floor. At the top there will be a stainless steel plate – from which will hang the individual strands of figures connected by a stainless steel cable; each figure, made of colored acrylic resin, is approximately 5.5 inches high with a frontal view width of 3 inches.
Do Ho Suh uses memories of his childhood in Korea to address issues of interpersonal space, identity, and the transitory qualities of existence in today’s globalized society. The mindset of the individual, coming together as a group, is a topic of great importance in his work, as shown by his artwork at Western.
“’Cause & Effect’ evokes a vicious tornado. This vast ceiling installation is a composition of densely hung strands that anchor thousands of figures clad in colors resembling a Doppler reading stacked atop one another,” said Do Ho Suh, adding that the artwork is a “physical realization of existence, suggesting strength in the presence of numerous individuals. The work is an attempt to decipher the boundaries between a single identity and a larger group, and how the two conditions coexist.”
The artwork at Western metaphorically places the individual within an intricate web of destiny and fate. “It comes from a belief that every individual is spawned from the lives he/she may have lived previously. The vertical context of the figures becomes a collection of past influences, and again, begins to define the inherent powers and energies that characterize an individual,” he said.
Do Ho Suh was born and raised in Seoul, South Korea. He earned his bachelor of fine arts and master of fine arts in oriental painting from Seoul National University. While still exhibiting in major contemporary museum shows in Seoul, he relocated to the United States to continue his studies at the Rhode Island School of Design and Yale University. Since 2000 he has had six one-person exhibitions in New York City. In 2001 he represented his country in the prestigious Venice Biennale and had retrospective of his work at the Seattle Art Museum in 2002. In 2010 he participated in the Venice Biennale Architecture Exhibition and the Liverpool Biennial. Through January 2012 he is featured in an Asian art show at the Seattle Art Museum. He will have a major show of his work this spring in Seoul.
Do Ho Suh’s work is represented in major museum collections, such as the Seattle Art Museum, Walker Art Gallery, Minneapolis, and The Museum of Modern Art, New York. His public commissions include the FDA building in Silver Springs, Md.; Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kan.; and the Unsung Founders Memorial at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He has completed a commission for the Stuart Collection at the University of California, San Diego.
Western has a distinguished history of art in public places. Western’s selection panels have always chosen artists who excel in the field of sculpture, and the university has allowed artists to choose their own sites across the entire campus, thereby integrating art with both the terrain, architecture and the social climate of campus. Western has selected artists with a world view who have interests in art as architecture, the natural environment, and social interaction. Today, Western has one of top 10 acclaimed university collections in the United States.
Sarah Clark-Langager, curator of Western’s Outdoor Sculpture Collection, noted that contemporary sculpture is a medium in motion, eluding precise definition.
“Linked to urbanism, architecture and acoustic and visual perception, it is a charged territory that mirrors political, social and technological developments. Its expanding definition today crosses all boundaries and incorporates new kinds of media such as video and digital technology, drawing with colored light effects, and installations of ephemeral materials. For this reason, the Outdoor Sculpture Collection Advisory Board has decided to move to or to concentrate on interior spaces. The selection panel for this commission was unanimous in its decision – that Do Ho Suh should lead us in this direction,” Clark-Langager said.
This most recent addition to Western’s Outdoor Sculpture Collection is funded by Washington state’s Percent-for-Art program, in which half of one percent of the cost for public building construction is earmarked for art allocation. The WWU project involved was construction of the Academic Instructional Center, which opened for classes in 2009 and has been honored for architectural excellence.
For more information about the Outdoor Sculpture Collection, which is part of Western’s College of Fine and Performing Arts, see: http://www.wwu.edu/cfpa/sculpture.shtml.
The above renderings show the installation as it would appear in the Academic Instructional Center at Western Washington University. The orange image is from a separate installation and is not exactly how the piece would appear at Western.
Detail images of the sculpture show that the piece is made of thousands of human figures made of colored acrylic resin.