People's imagination is more often than not a grand fantasy. When we close our eyes for a moment in our daily lives and let our imagination take over, the short respite of that moment soothes our tired minds and bodies. Here, there is an artist who expresses momentary imagination through ceramic work. The neat, colorful and lovely lines and colors of the pottery are perfect for attracting the public's attention. Let's enter FFanG's World together and feel the imaginary moment she is talking about.
Before beginning the interview, would you please introduce yourself to our readers?
Hello, I'm Hwang Jaewon, and I'm working as an artist who makes pieces using clay as the main material. Also, I graduated from Sookmyung Women's University with a degree from the Department of Arts & Crafts.
What made you interested in ceramics among crafts? Is there any part that you find particularly attractive about ceramics?
At first, I didn't purely go to the Department of Arts & Crafts because I was interested in it and wanted to do it. But fortunately, the materials used in my major fit me better than I thought, and among them, the charm of ceramics was the most appealing. Since the material, especially the clay, is soft, I could freely attempt the shapes that I wanted. Also, the feeling when the pottery is baked out of the kiln has a sense of joy and charm that cannot be expressed in words.
What made you choose to be a ceramic artist?
Right before college, I had the experience of working as an assistant in the studio of a famous ceramic artist, a senior craftsman. At that time, I was able to see the life of a "ceramic artist" in close proximity while watching her producing pieces and designing her own exhibition with them. I thought, "If I get this job, I'll be happy and have fun making what I want in my own space." I think this experience became the biggest motive for choosing my job.
What is the most important part of your work and why?
Ceramics are made from clay, and since it is such a sensitive material, there are many things to pay attention to throughout the whole design process. Especially because I don't use a spinning wheel to make the desired shape by hand, but rather by casting plaster. In addition, the size of the work may decrease, move, or crack due to various factors such as temperature in the process of baking the clay in the kiln. It is important to imagine the appearance from the kiln and design accordingly in the very beginning.
What is the most difficult part of the process and how did you overcome it?
As I said before, I think the design process is difficult from beginning to end, so I did a lot of experiments to overcome this. Through these various attempts, I accumulated my own method by considering the temperature, glaze, and coloration of the kiln. It wasn't easy at first, but now I can work more stably with the information I've acquired so far. Each artist has their own method according to the feeling of the work he or she wants, and in my case, I tried to find one that fits a smooth and clear appearance of the craft that I am pursuing.
"FFanG's World" is your unique worldview and concept that encompasses your representative works. Please introduce, the main character FFanG and dog Boksoon in "FFanG's World" who are loved by the public.
First, the character FFanG was first conceived when I was doing my master's degree in 2010. As I was going through some difficult things at that time, I tried to flash back happy moments from the past to escape from reality. I wanted to portray a child who was innocent during that time, so I watched videos of my happy childhood many times. FFanG is, after all, like my secondary character, a character that keeps changing. These days, I want to focus on the present rather than reminisce about my childhood, so I'm trying to express FFAnG, who was a young girl, maturely as a modern idol. That's why she also dresses up in fancy clothes just like an idol. Second, Boksoon was a character that I wanted to create from the beginning. I conceived that character after seeing my pet poodle, but I didn't think I could easily create it because I was afraid that I would not be able to accurately express the image I wanted. However, after working on it, I was proud of myself because it came out just as I wanted it to be in one go more easily than I thought. Boksoon, which was born like this, is a confident, lively and comical image of a poodle that I had been watching for a long time. Along with the characteristics of the poodle, I wanted to capture the appearance of it, such as its long, slim legs, and round and smooth hips.
FFanG is a character that continues to change from a flat character to a three-dimensional one and from both external and internal aspects. What changes will be made to FFanG in the future?
Well, I still don't know. I haven't worked on FFanG for almost a year, so I haven't changed anything, but I'm still thinking about it. I want to work more with the image of a mature FFanG rather than the image of a young girl that I envisioned in the early stages of my work. I want to use rhinestone to change her appearance, and I also want to make her with different materials. However, these are just ideas, and I can't say if there's a definite direction for FFanG's change yet.
What would you like to tell the public about your FFanG's World that will become more colorful?
I want to tell you that my work is not very different from reality. This is because the imaginary "FFanG's World" that I have expressed through FFanG and Boksoon is not deep, but it is an imagination in a break that can be done when you close your eyes for five minutes. I hope that appreciating the light imaginary world that I'm expressing also feels like a break to the public.
Please tell us if there is anything you want the public to focus on when they look at your art.
Since I have started to spread out my works and display them, it is hard for people to concentrate on just one piece. So rather than focusing on one piece, I want the public to look at it in general. The biggest feature of my work is that I don't lock my paintings in a space, canvas, especially in the case of painting and installation. As people can see from my drawing style, the line doesn't end on the canvas, it always breaks off like it's stretching out somewhere. It makes people imagine, "Something is going to be connected to the world outside of this canvas." Since I value the overall atmosphere of the work, I want to invite the public to my own space through the pieces.
As a ceramic artist, it is thought that you need various ideas to produce new work continuously. What kind of efforts do you make to get new ideas?
I really try to 'see' a lot. I'm continuing to use the media to find and organize various images that I'm interested in. Just as there is a trend, people always look at and accept images, and I think I'm a good acceptor. I try to see, encounter, and accept many images. These days, I'm interested in images that sparkle like rhinestone. I think sparkling things can express human desires. It's actually just a small, normal fake diamond, but when they're concentrated, they sparkle even more and look fancy.
You're expanding the spectrum of your work not only in pottery but also in painting and installation art. How did you start painting and installation art?
Ceramic work is very limited when it comes to expressing something. No matter how big I want to make a shape, I need a kiln of the right size, and I need a big studio for a big kiln. In addition, the colors that can be produced with clay are also limited. Colors like fluorescent pink are hard to produce with clay. Since there was no private studio for me in the past, I started working on paintings that I could do with canvas and acrylic paints without such space, cost, and color restrictions. At first, I started drawing, but as I wanted to draw a bigger picture, I started installation art. That was how I could expand my drawing space.
Is there anything you want to work on in the future?
There are many things I want to do, but I'm still thinking about them. My recent work has included attaching rhinestone to the surface of the Boksoon model. Also, I've been interested in the shape of flower vases for a long time, so I want to work on that as an extension of my work.
Lastly, do you have any final words that you would like to leave for Sookmyungians?
I hope all Sookmyungians live by doing what they can do happily in the future. Rather than being too tied to reality like money, I want them to live a life doing what they want to do. Find something that makes you feel pleasant and joyful and always challenge yourself.
- Sookmyung Women's Univ., (B.F.A.) Arts & Crafts
- Sookmyung Women's Univ., (M.F.A.) Visual Art
- Sookmyung Women's Univ., (D.F.A.) Visual Art
- Participated in 8 individual exhibitions
- Participated in a large number of group exhibitions
Kim Lee Jiwon / Society Section Editor
Jung Nam Chaehee / Reporter