Sun You is a Seoul born, New York based artist. You has exhibited her work in galleries and museums internationally. Selected exhibition venues include Geary, New York, The Pit, Glendale, Korea Gallery, Korean Cultural Center, New York, Queens Museum, New York, The Hangaram Art Museum, Seoul, Scotty Enterprise, Berlin, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, and The Suburban, Chicago. You was an artist in residence at Hunter College, Ace Hotel, Marble House Project, Atlantic Center for the Arts, Triangle Arts Association, Künstlerhaus Schloss Balmoral and the Sharpe and Walentas Studio Program. She received an AHL Grant, the Korean Art Foundation. You’s work has been featured in many publications including Artforum, The Brooklyn Rail. Korea Times. Modern Painters and Widewalls. You’s artist book, ‘please enjoy!’ with Small Editions, was acquired by the Whitney Library, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Yale University and the NY Public Library. You heads President Clinton Projects, a curatorial project and co-runs a non-profit gallery, Tiger Strikes Asteroid New York. She is also a co-founder and core-member of An/other New York, a collective of Asian and Asian American visual artists, writers and curators.
In my life, I have moved and traveled a lot. This fluidity and impermanence has influenced how I think and make. I prioritize flexibility and lightness. My work does not require fixed sites of production, is easily packed and made spontaneously. In my multimedia painting and sculpture, I use a mix of everyday objects and craft materials to create provisional tableaus that celebrate women’s work, domestic ornamentation and the language of abstraction. For a recent solo exhibition, This Two, I made a series of table top sculptures that loosely reference Ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arrangement. Ikebana flower arrangements have their own internal logic of line, color and shape that is both immediately pleasing and also suggestive of a larger world or universal order. The sculptures I make are constructed with wire, eyelash extensions, beads, sewing needles, paper clips, razor blades and artificial plants. They are held together by gravity and magnets in transitional groupings that vary with each installation, evoking the impermanence and interdependence I see around me.
My abstract panels are both paintings and wall reliefs. The works are made with polymer clay, acrylic paint and wood. Polymer clay, one of my primary materials, is typically used in crafts like bead making. The association with domesticity and baking in my work is reinforced through hand building techniques of rolling, pinching and firing clay in my home oven.The largest of these works, No Title, is composed of multiple panels. Each time it is shown, I add more panels, extending or rearranging them depending on where it is hung. I like the idea that this large work can change and playfully evolve in space and time.
My work is intuitive. I often group forms by shape and color. I also introduce a chance to interrupt my own tastes and habits. Recently I’ve been exploring compositions derived from how I pack artwork for travel. After baking clay pieces, I put them in cardboard boxes to move to the studio. The arrangement of the polymer clay is based on function—I organize them so they won’t break. These functional groupings have formed the basis for new wall works and floor sculptures.
Growing up in South Korea, we had a floor centered culture—meaning we would eat, study and sleep on the floor. This has also influenced my working process, which in turn affects how my art looks. I make most of my works on the floor, arranging compositions without considering orientations like up or down, left or right. This openness to spatial orientation reflects my experiences of writing and translating between Hangul and English, which can be written vertically and horizontally, respectively. This linguistic connection also influences the forms I use in many works. I sometimes make Hangul alphabetic characters that are arranged in configurations that are linguistically meaningless but suggest textual possibilities.
In all my works, I draw beauty and humor from humble materials and create compositions that reflect on the joy, interdependency and fragility of the world.