September 20, 2016

Stitchy Snippets - 'Rag Face'

Yoon Ji Seon's 'Rag Faces' stare at you in vividly appealing colours that draw your eye in. Her series 'Rag Face' is an accumulation of three years of her work and has been on show at New York's Yossi Milo Gallery last year and the Gallery at BRIC House earlier this year.

The artist stitches into her photographed self portraits. Taking self portraits wearing a variety of different expressions, Yoon Ji Seon incorporates a lot of humour into her pieces:
"I didn’t just want beauty. I’m not against beauty, but I didn’t want to put a general beauty inmy work. I wanted to put some humour. One of my nephews, when he saw the work, said, “Aunt, you have noodles coming out from your nose.” It was fun, and I wanted to put some humour in it."

Stitching by hand and with her sewing machine, layer after layer rich textures are constructed. The layers of thread are combined and unite to create new tones and shades. The direction of stitches are changed to create shadows, depth and dimension in her pieces.

Yoon Ji Seon openly and humorously explains how she began working with the sewing machine and how she developed her style. "I never learned how to sew with a sewing machine. I tried to make stitches, and I made lot of mistakes. I mostly learned from the mistakes. It’s not normal sewing, like for clothes. It’s very different from that kind of sewing. The sewing machine broke many times. The man who fixes the machine insisted that I stop. I was torturing the sewing machine. It’s not a common way to use it. At the beginning, I’d stitch by hand, but those were small pieces. Now that my work is getting bigger and thicker, I mostly use the machine."

Yoon Ji Seon talks about her working process where she often works throughout the night. Her studio environment was very compact and she didn't have enough space to lay out her larger pieces of artwork whilst sewing at the machine and would frequently have to roll up her work and continue to stitch from memory. "I had to roll it while I was working. My room is very small, so I couldn’t unroll it to see the work. I had to remember everything I did. That’s why I couldn’t stop working and that’s why I didn’t sleep."

In Korean culture it is regarded a taboo to ornament or cover your body, for example with paint. Yoon Ji Seon's work has previously shocked local audiences as they struggle to can't understand her work and are fearful of it. Yoon Ji Seon states that "We think that hurting our body or destroying our body is not beautiful and very disrespectful to our parents.... It’s a taboo. I once planned a solo exhibition but it was cancelled because people were scared of what I did."

Inspired by traditional Korean masks, her needlework spreads and covers the original photographs often leaving only the eyes visible, thus forming a mask over the photographs. The artist explains. “Masks are very attractive because masks have various kinds of facial expressions and they usually exist as substitute personalities that express real-live people’s desires. I never tried to imitate these masks, but they often inspire me.”

I feel warmed by Yoon Ji Seon's striking 'Rag Faces' which are full of character and intrigue. I hope you enjoy them too!

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