An art exhibit can be one of the most inspiring visual encounters one can experience. It can also be dull, drab and yawn-worthy. Thankfully, the Florida Institute of Technology is showcasing one of the best art exhibits a person can lay eyes on. Nestled just to the north of the Evans Library, sits the happy, two-story building, announced as the Ruth Funk Center for Textile Arts. This fall, artist Hye Shin teamed up with Funk curator, Madeline Sweeny, to display art in the way that Shin envisioned. Shin, who now lives in Florida, was born in Seoul, South Korea. Her background plays a huge role on the characteristics of her artwork, as well as current events, on both a macro and micro scale.
Walking into the museum, one is immediately presented with something rather peculiar. Shin created several, intricately woven dandelion seeds, out of many colors. The weaving was a tediously orchestrated, consisting of hundreds of thousands of individual fibers coming together as the wispy portion of the dandelion seed complex. The seeds were attached to a small core, by a rubber hose she obtained from a local home improvement warehouse. Shin was compelled to create such art because her childhood consisted of seemingly endless summer days, frolicking through the Korean landscape, finding ripe dandelion seeds to blow into the wind. Shin obtained her goal to convey that the artwork portrays happiness, and executes with the warm colors that the seeds are painted in. Shin’s childhood is professed to be her happiest time, and hopes to relate to her audience with a contemporary illustration of how simple life once was. The seed also has a more complex, developed symbol of life and death—one a child or even an adult would not easily pick up on at a first glance at the exhibit. The seed is a dying dandelion; however, when something—or someone—comes along and disperses the seeds, the dandelion has completed its life purpose. Sweeny was accurately able to extend the artist’s message to the audience by placing the work at the entrance, necessitating that the audience immediately understand that Shin’s life was just like ours. Additionally, placing it above our heads upon entrance makes the audience feel small again. As one ascends the stairs, the true magnitude and beauty of the artwork is clearly visible from a different perspective.
Shin’s artwork often derives from current events or her current mood, and her headlined piece, titled Sunken Dreams, is no exception. Entering the exhibit area, one is struck with the intense bright of a white origami boat, barbed wire clouds, and a white ocean, in contrast to blue rocks on a white ocean, and blue pouches on the wall. It was almost overwhelming to be hit with such an aura of blue and white, the tension in the room screamed sadness. Analysis of the exhibit concludes that the 2014 ferry boat sinking off the coast of Korea was the trigger for her creation. This tragic event, that made headlines worldwide, really struck a sad chord with Shin, due to the location and the magnitude of the event. Over 200 people lost their lives on that ferry, and a great number of them were students, close to the age of her two daughters. The tribute shows the pain of the students’ never to be realized dreams, represented by the barb-wire clouds. The audience can interpret both the clouds on the wall and the clouds hanging in blue pouches to represent the irreplaceable loss of potential from the lives lost. The origami boat is gigantic in magnitude to what is considered “normal.” The simplistic manner in which to approach the event adds to a very powerful aura of sadness. If one were very pleased with something, they would spend hours and many resources to display how pleased they are. This exhibit demonstrates quite the opposite. Shin conveys utter disapproval by simplistically approaching the project. There are scattered rocks, painted blue, surrounding the origami boat, seemingly in no order. One might assume that there are as many blue rocks as lives lost—but that would be incorrect. Shin constricts the boat to the middle of the white ocean with the rocks to ensure that the boat carrying memories of their hopes and dreams will never sink. Sweeny’s outlay expertly conveys Shin’s powerful tone in the showcase exhibit.
Essentially, this fall’s contemporary art exhibit by Hye Shin is emotionally moving, and aesthetically pleasing. The art may be nontraditional, but it has the power to captivate an audience with the same degree, if not more, than some of our generation’s greatest artist. If ever there was a time for expressive persons to get involved emotionally with current events, and the environment—and tie them together, it is now. Shin’s exhibit employs contemporary art techniques to bring an audience back to Earth, forcing one to reevaluate their priorities in the best way.
Click the top photo to see the gallery of photos I took. Check out the Exhibit for more than just this sneak-peak!