On Sunday, artist Yukyung Chung performed a series of live paintings for visitors in the Radeke Garden at the Rhode Island School of Design Museum of Art. The event, “Work in Progress: Painting Intuitively,” accompanied a short conversation that addressed Chung’s process and inspirations.
Chung is a RISD Digital + Media graduate student from South Korea who works with “digital, technology, sonic, painting and performance,” according to her website. Her work focuses on intuitive expression, experimenting with the relationship between creativity and sound as well as the “appearance of process and outcome,” she told The Herald.
Chung painted four canvases in her hour-long performance. Her movements responded to a soundscape she composed that included compass directions, fragments of pop songs and instructions for certain movements. Throughout the performance, she switched between various materials and utensils including acrylic paint, charcoal, paint rollers and brushes. It was the first time she performed this piece for an audience, having only recorded it in the past.
The idea of the piece stemmed from her interest in exploring the role of intuition in creating art, she said. She usually spends a lot of time looking for answers to her problems, but through her performance she wanted to explore the idea of acting “right away” instead of thinking about something for a longer period of time.
Chung might respond differently to a given sound depending on the day and her state of mind, she said. She also wanted the audience to “imagine” how the soundscape might appear visually.
“Whenever we listen to the same sound, everyone has a slightly or totally different imagination,” she said.
She first proposed the concept as a contender for the Dorner Prize — a competition run by the RISD Museum that asks artists to develop a site-specific installation that “examines or critiques the Museum’s historical and contemporary contexts, collections, architectural idiosyncrasies, habits of visitation and web presence,” according to the museum website
Deborah Clemons, RISD Museum assistant director of public and academic programs, thought Chung’s idea would be an “immersive experience” for museum visitors.
“My hope is that it’s an exploratory, experimental experience for people to make what meaning and interpretations they want to make from it,” Clemons said.
Clemons explained the importance of inviting artists who actively engage and “disrupt” the expectations of museum spaces. “I really am always excited to work with artists and in any media because they inform museum practice,” she said.
Whereas exhibitions take years to curate, “programmatic” events allow the museum to be “more responsive” to contemporary art developments, Clemons said. She commented on her efforts to “provide platforms for artists to share their work on campus,” allowing them to consider their work in an institutional context.
The RISD Museum offers free admission on Sundays and has a “robust attendance,” Clemons said. She added that exhibiting contemporary art allows visitors of “all backgrounds” and “levels of interest” to reflect on the creative decisions artists and designers make, strengthening their “understanding that behind these pieces are people making choices.”
“It was mesmerizing,” said attendee and RISD student Brenna Bruggeman. She was intrigued by how Chung responded to the soundscape with her painted gestures.
“I kept trying to anticipate what would happen,” she said, “It was interesting to try and predict what she would do next.”