Ik-Joong Kang, Moon Jar with Golden Karma, 2012, 6 x 6ft, Mixed Media on Wood
Story of Moon Jar
The sky is blue
before the full moon night
and it wears the bright new dress
on the morning of New Year’s Day.
Right before the storm
the sky is mild green.
And it seems layered
before winter blizzard comes.
-Li Bai(이백/李白, 701-762)-
HOW IT ALL STARTED
I developed the three-inch-by-three-inch format during my days as a graduate student Pratt Institute in New York. I worked on this series primarily outside the classroom. I was an impoverished student, working between two jobs at a flea market in Queens and a deli in Manhattan. I needed to find a way to fit art into my lifestyle, and the solution was the three-by-three canvas.
I discovered that the small canvases could easily fit into my pockets and into the palm of my hand. And best of all, it was affordable. My lengthy commute transformed into work time in a mobile studio. When I first started, my goal was to transform the doodles into large canvases if and when I had some money, As the small canvases accumulated into hundreds and then thousands, I realized that it was not necessary to transfer them onto big canvases. What I was making was fun and simple. True Zen.
DIALOGUE WITH NAM JUNE PAIK
62,000 three-inch-square canvases were shown at the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Korea in 2009, under the title “Multiple Dialogue Infinity"”. My installation, Smaramansang, surrounded a gigantic tower consisting of 1,003 television monitors -- The More, the Better, created by Nam June Paik. Samramansang, which means all things in nature in Korean, is everything around me and within me. It includes the things I never imagined.
I started collecting drawings by children from 1997, a year before my son was born. When I was a child growing up in South Korea, I often heard stories from my elders about their lives in a Korea that was one single country – before the war split them apart. I remember how their eyes filled with the hope of reuniting once again with their long-lost family and friends. These memories inspired me to think about building an actual bridge connecting North and South Korea. The bridge will be covered with children’s drawings from both North and South, symbolizing the unity between two countries. Although this bridge is yet to be built, it lead me to my first installation of children’s art: 100,000 Dreams (1999). The installation was of 60,000 three-by-three drawings by children from South Korea. Originally, the plan was to install the children’s drawings from both North and South but North Korean children could not participate at the last moment. So sadly, only the works by South Korean children was installed inside a one-kilometer greenhouse near the wasteland of the South Korean demilitarized zone. This project grew into Moon of Dream (2004) and Amazed World(2005).
MOON JAR HIDDEN IN A BALLOON
Moon of the Dream, a 48 ft. diameter “balloon” globe with 126,000 children’s drawings attached was launched at the lake, not far from the DMZ, of the demilitarized border zone between North and South Korea. In the morning of the opening day I was shocked to see a somewhat deflated and unbalanced giant globe floating on the water. Apparently, we pumped too much air into the balloon thinking that we could get the perfectly round shape of the globe. But in doing so, the vinyl/canvas-material-globe got ripped and the full moon shape slowly became an imperfect one.
There was despair at first but soon I saw a lovely shape in the deflated globe – a Moon Jar!
MY NATURAL TRANSITION: FROM DEFLATION TO IMPERFECTION
The traditional Moon Jar, made during the Joseon dynasty (1392-1911), is simple and plain jar, with the color of deep white. The potter had to first make the bottom half separately from the top half then the two semi-spheres were connected by hand. Because they used the extra soft clay to make this pottery. The idea of connecting the two Koreas through art was manifested in the process of making the Moon jar. Because they used the extra soft clay to make this particular pottery, even in the hands of a master, it had imperfections. But what made the Moon Jar so beautiful were the imperfections. The idea of the Moon Jar is about oneness through this connection of two different parts. Its imperfection makes perfection.
Ik-Joong Kang, Blue Moon Jar, 2012, 72 x 72 inches, MIxed Media on Wood