Making Memories from Silk

December 16, 2009

Do Ho Suh’s Gate (2005) will go on view this weekend in LACMA’s Korean art galleries. Made of translucent silk, Gate is a full-size rendering of one of the gates to the artist’s childhood home in Seoul. Suh’s father, the artist and scholar Suh Se-Ok, built the house based on the design of traditional Korean architecture of the 1880s. He reconstructed the traditional scholar’s house using discarded wood from demolished buildings that were torn down as Korea was modernizing in the 1950s and 1960s.

Do Ho Suh, Gate, 2005, purchased with funds provided by Carla and Fred Sands through the 2006 Collectors Committee

Born in Seoul in 1962, Suh lives and works in both New York and South Korea. He began making “fabric-architecture” in 1994, using transparent and translucent materials like silk and nylon to recreate the places he has lived throughout his life. Architecture and memory are central themes in Suh’s work. By rendering such intimate spaces as his childhood home and his first adult apartment in translucent materials, he evokes questions in the viewer about their own sense of place and memory. When asked about the fabrication of these works, he responded: “A big portion of the fabrication has been done by me, especially measuring and pattern making. Measuring is such an important process and it becomes always very personal since the process allows me to revisit my childhood memories and personal histories. It has to be also a very intimate process, too, because it is a very tactile process. I have to caress all the surfaces of the building and record the measurements. Of course, I must hire other people who are in various skill levels from 'Human National Treasures' (old sewing ladies who still carry on traditional techniques) to part-time students because it is a very labor intensive process.”

Michele Urton, Assistant Curator, Contemporary Art