Jeung-Hwa Park: Revelations
|Photo of Jeung-Hwa Park by Karen Philippi.
Stitch, pleat, gather: verbs of fabric manipulation. But
for Jeung-Hwa Park, they are nouns for drawing.
Peruse Falling Leaves I, a scarf that began as machine-knit
wool. Exploiting the wool's structure, Park stretched, folded,
bunched, secured it with needle and thread. Next came dyeing--like
the manipulation that proceeded intuitively by hand and eye,
the color was added as a cook would augment, taste, and adjust
the ingredients in her pot. The fabric was felted. And finally
came the revelation, when the threads were withdrawn to release
marks, lines, pattern, and texture cascading down the length
of the garment. This wrinkly unpredictable drawing, juxtaposed
on a smooth, firm background, is a delight to Park each time
it happens; it is her gift to her patrons.
|Leaves, 2001; wool; machine knitting, tying, felting,
dyeing; 50 by 10 inches. Photo: Karen Philippi.
Jeung-Hwa Park was born in Korea and studied fashion design
before coming to the United States with her husband and two
sons. Initially she familiarized herself with fashion trends
in New York by taking street photos for Korean magazines.
Then, living in Providence, she availed herself of continuing
education classes at the Rhode Island School of Design to
learn machine knitting and shibori; eventually, she enrolled
in the textiles department of the school's M.F.A. program.
Park's proclivity for fashion fostered her desire to create
garments "from scratch" so that substance integrated with
form. Trial and error taught her that silk and wool best suited
her intentions, and she continues to experiment with resist-dyeing,
incorporating a variety of inclusions in the tied-off bundles.
The three-dimensional results she describes as wearable sculpture.
The notion of integration also permeates Park's life and
consequently the production of her art. Yin/yang, the Eastern
principle of the merging of opposites, is the basis for Park's
process. She seeks to express a harmony of traditional and
modern, East and West, female and male, home and community;
these dichotomies translate to the work as soft and firm,
dimpled and flat, light and dark. Since coming to America,
she finds herself overwhelmed by nature, and her color palette
is inspired by the daily changes observed from her veranda
and on excursions in New England. Consciousness of nature
brings to the fore, as well, the personal and familial cycles
of aging and rebirth so that time-based themes merge in her
work with the balance of yin/yang.
|Rain Drops, 1999; wool; machine knitting, stitching,
felting, dyeing; 70 by 15 inches. Photo: Mark Johnson.
Park desires to share, not only through her scarves. She divides
her public exposure equally between exhibitions and craft shows
so that she can learn from her admirers and buyers. She also
teaches: Korean, to share her native traditions in America,
and fiber appreciation and technique to adults and children.
Jeung-Hwa Park's artistic and cultural spirit is pervasive;
its embodiment in her garments entices wearers to be enveloped
in extraordinary drawing.
D Wood is a freelance writer and exhibition curator.