▲ Periods of aloneness experience as a child lend Hong Bo-ram a quiet, contemplative sensibility which connects well with Jeju’s vast spaces. Her work hasbecome more abstract since she became a Jeju resident as she explores the relationship between apparently dissimilar subjects, such as land and water.Photos courtesy Darryl Cootes
Hong Bo-ram, 31, is a petite, softly spoken woman, formerly from Seoul, who moved to Seogwipo in January 2009 to participate in the one-year artist residency program at the Lee Jung-seop museum; along with five other Korean artists from around the world. She is unbothered by the revelers who speak loudly behind her at Mirru Namu café as she recounts her humble beginnings as an artist. “I started when I was very young,” she said. “Four or five. I was always alone and my mother played with me with drawings.”
She has become an artist who works with theatre, music, drawing, painting, and ceramics, but to say she is simply an artist doesn't do justice to the breadth of her work; she is an explorer, a Renaissance woman, a reporter, and, as she wrote in her artist’s statement: “A seeker, a questioner, trying to find ideas and enlightenment from every day experience, navigating through the relationships between me and myself, me and others, me and nature and the world.”
As a small child her mother was a housewife, her father an ambitious young journalist during a time when reporting jobs were slim on the ground- which caused the family to move frequently. Eventually, he took a job selling construction materials in Saudi Arabia where he worked for several years. “I was not a social girl,” she said, and the constant moving, and her father being away for long periods of time, compounded this sense of aloneness which has become a major influence to her work.
She "always knew" that she wanted to be an artist and her passion and talent was acknowledged from the very beginning by her acceptance into prestigious secondary schools. She received a B.F.A in Fine Art from Seoul National University in 2001 and an M.F.A in 2004. While pursuing her Masters at S.N.U, she took the opportunity to participate in exchange programs where she studied fabric silk screen at the world renown Rhode Island School of Design (R.I.S.D) and the University of Art and Design of Helsinki; where, in 2003, she held her first solo exhibition ‘Here with you,’ a series of charcoal drawings.
Most recently she conducted a public art piece ‘Heart Map Project,’ where she compiled a book of drawings from residents of Woelpyung, Seogwipo of their favorite place within their town. The drawings represented the evolution of Woelpyung with several of the pictures depicting the same location, but at different points in time. The pictures display the collective memory of the town through images of temples, an ever changing port, and the grave of a “Mr Lee”, which has become: “A playground for lovers at night,” remarked Hong, with a smile.
This interest in relationships, particularly between two dissimilar subjects, is an aspect of her work that has evolved since her arrival to Jeju. “In Jeju, first inspiration was the relationship of water and land. They look very different, but they affect each other very closely,” said Hong. This has made her work more abstract, endeavoring to portray the relationship on canvas as oppose to the physical subjects. Also the vast space of Jeju, compared to the compact city of Seoul, has encouraged her to paint bigger pieces with longer strokes.
The sense of loneness she feels has been affected by Jeju as well. In Seoul she was alone among others, in Jeju she is alone with herself, which has caused her “to think of the origin of myself,” a more introspective examination than her work in Seoul.
Hong Bo-ram intends to stay in Jeju after her residency has come to an end to continue exploring the inherent relationships she observers during the aloneness of her days. Her fine art work can be seen at http://hongboram.egloos.com/
Hong is also on half of alternative/electro pop duo Fortune Cookie, more information can be found at http://www.fortunecook.com/main.html
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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