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Reading Paper: A Conversation with Jae Ko
by Sarah Tanguy

Korean-born Jae Ko studied at Toyo Art School and Wako University in Tokyo, where she earned a BFA in 1988. Ten years later, she completed her MFA at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore. Since 1985, she has participated in group and solo exhibitions throughout the United States, as well as in Austria, Germany, Japan, and the Netherlands. The recipient of several awards, including a Pollock-Krasner grant in 2001, her work can be found in the Washington, DC, collections of the Corcoran Gallery of Art and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, among others. Presently, she divides her time between Washington, DC, and Piney Point, a small agricultural community on the tip of Maryland’s Western shore, where the Potomac and the St. Mary’s River join the Chesapeake Bay. In college, she studied all of the visual arts, seeking a balance between wall and floor work. Her sculptural explorations of paper began at the age of 19. Since then, she has continued to coax new shapes out of this common industrial material, as she subjects it to various conditions and interactions. The undulating rhythms of water, whether swift, pooling, or swirling, flow through her organic abstractions. At the same time, the repeated acts of unwinding and rolling endow them with a life-affirming quality. These coiled and twisted forms bear their weight with imposing yet guarded elegance, their agile athleticism only hinting at the labor and timing required. But for Ko, it’s a labor of passion that transports her to ever greater levels of freedom.


Untitled Cream (JK504 and JK 515), 2006. Rolled paper and glue,
28 x 12 x 10.5 and 21 x 15 x 12 in.


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