In Kyoung Chun creates her artwork in a studio space at the Goat Farm Arts Center in West Midtown. Look for Chun’s most recent pieces in two new group shows: Gathered IV, running through June 15 at MOCA GA, and Listening to the Waters, the six-week-long Art of Nature exhibition opening April 27 at the Blue Heron Nature Preserve.
Chun, now 52, studied psychology while living in Seoul, South Korea. It wasn’t the right fit. “I hoped something more interesting would lead my life in an exciting way,” she says. “Without knowing exactly what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, I got married and moved to United States. Since my English was pretty bad, I shied away from socializing. I always loved making art and thought painting could be an efficient tool for communication. So I became an artist.”
During the latest open studios event at the Goat Farm, Chun spoke about what drives her work.
ARTS ATL: You experiment with a range of media, including neon and plexiglass. What is your process for selecting materials for a given piece?
Chun: I majored in painting and drawing in the M.F.A. program at Georgia State University. Painting is my favorite medium [usually in watercolor], yet I always ask myself if there is a new way to make something. Trying a different material helps me come out of my comfort zone. That’s the moment when an exciting thing happens in my art.
ARTS ATL: Your work has been shown in public and private spaces. Do you begin with the exhibition space in mind?
Chun: I aspire to show in various spaces — galleries, museums and public spaces. Exhibiting in different spaces provides exposure to new surroundings and people. When I create a public piece, I think of the community first. As an artist, serving the broader community is a wonderful thing to do. I become more conscious of engaging larger audiences.
ARTS ATL: Some of the work in your studio is from exhibitions in recent years. Can you please describe your experience in 2018’s Golden Hour at Oakland Cemetery?
Chun: It was amazing. A lot of people lined up to take a picture under the Blue Gate sculpture. I was extremely excited with the huge transition of this space. People getting together with friends and family was really fantastic. I had never been to Oakland Cemetery before. I walked around for hours and sat down. There was an area with such dramatic change. One side celebrates the beautiful Margaret Mitchell site and important public figures. Near the gate there’s a well-managed area beside anonymous tombstones. I saw, across the street, a Confederate soldier’s statue. I felt overwhelmed, even in springtime when it was beautiful. There was an invisible tension.
ARTS ATL: How sparked your interest in houses as a theme?
Chun: Trying another medium is meaningful. That’s why I went to a flea market, bought a dollhouse, repainted it and started working on that [motif]. At GSU, a professor asked, “Can you think of a material to make a three-dimensional house?” I thought, “What if I make a house out of plexiglass?” I always had an interest in invisible energy and space. That’s why I started working with clear and semitransparent materials to make a house sculpture. We hung it on the wall, so it ultimately becomes a painting in a way.
ARTS ATL: When you’re not in the studio, where are some of your favorite spots around the city?
Chun: I usually go to gallery spaces like MINT, Atlanta Contemporary, MOCA GA and the High Museum. I love theater and concerts, so I try to go to the summer concerts in Piedmont Park and to screenings with the Atlanta Film Festival. I love so many restaurants. My favorite area is Buford Highway. I feel like I’m visiting my hometown. Also, I go to Jeju spa in Duluth, where I can just forget about everything.