Monday, September 14, 2009

#2 Accent

As a South Korean artist, he specialzed in fossil modeling overlayed on deco influenced framing. It appealed to a specific audience. Was it really art or forensics?

He became restless. Questioning the meaning of art, he headed out alone to find the answer. He spent six months visiting native villages along the Amazon. He watched the villagers weave baskets used for storing food stuffs, transporting their belongings, and for trade. As he watched, he noticed the natives wove delicate to intricate patterns into the baskets. When he asked each villager why they varied their designs, the answer he received was a very simple and yet sincere, "Because the basket's beauty makes me happy".

He apprenticed with the weaving masters and was soon able to design his own baskets and mats there along the Amazon.

Upon returning to the United States he began transferring his new skills into technical formats that would allow him to follow the master's methods and enable him to produce wall sized woven portraits.

I met him while visiting a warehouse artist loft when I accompanied my daughter on a photo shoot in downtown Los Angeles. As I stood up on the balcony and looked below, I found dozens of eyes staring back at me. I was drawn to look back at them. Going down the stairs, I could not help but reach out and touch the weaves. Black and rattan woven so intrically up close for such a perfect picture at a distance. He walked in while I had my hand on one of the portraits. I recoiled as if I had been caught touching an art museum masterpiece.

The portraits were being stored in the loft while they were rotated to various gallery showings. He explained his processes to me as he put his first woven basket into my hands to highlight how his skills had exploded into to such large magnificent pieces.

We sat together for a long time. He showed me photos of his Amazon visit and other photos of his solitary walking tour of South America. I heard about his adventures with flying mountain top tents and unusually vacant ruins.

When my daughter was finished modeling she joined us and was invited to pose for a weaving project for his next show. Phone numbers were exchanged and then we left the loft.

After he called her to set up the preliminary shoot, to lay the design of the weave, my daughter hung up the phone and turned with a puzzled look on her face. She hoped she had understood him correctly because she said he had such a heavy accent.

In all the hours I spent with him, in every word and whisper, I never heard an accent.

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