Art students use NEXT exhibit to address political issues

Kim Jong Un

Oil painting of Kim Jong Un, the leader of North Korea, by student Robert Yi.
*Photo courtesy of VOA

By Lanie Rivera
Editor

Art students from D.C.’s Corcoran College of Art and Design presented their final art projects at the college museum, on display until May 19, many of which have a politically charged meaning.

The students’ artwork has been compiled into an exhibit called NEXT, the name symbolic of the students who will receive their degrees move on from the undergraduate art program in May.

Robert Yi, a student from South Korea, presented many paintings in the exhibit, including one of North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un.

He explained his intended message to Voice of America:

“My paintings are called Mask paintings. And it’s the idea that, in society today, no matter where you are, people put on a mask,” he said. “That idea is expressed in North Korea because the people of North Korea, the citizens, put on a face…they’re required to act happy.”

Other students targeted different political issues.

Jason Tucker, a fine art photography major, sought to reflect his homosexual identity in his artwork by researching the meaning of derogatory terms for homosexual people.

“I started doing a lot of research into words that have a specific meaning within a gay male context, and so I started with the word ‘faggot,'” he said. “The root of the word comes down to ‘a bundle of sticks.’ So I started with that and wanted to make a self-portrait. So I ended up collecting my exact body weight in sticks…I wanted to take something that I’ve been called before, that was an epithet, and make something beautiful out of it.”

Read more about the D.C. students’ art exhibit here.

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One million grains of rice

Photo courtesy of High Fructose Magazine

By Lanie Rivera
Editor

Artist Saeri Kiritani has defied all traditional sculpture mediums of marble, granite, clay and wax with her recent life-size self-sculpture — Kiritani used upwards of a million grains of rice for her piece, according to this press release.

Kiritani earned her spot at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Portrait Gallery  when the 100 pound, five-foot tall sculpture won the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition. Kiritani is one of 48 artists who were selected to showcase their work in the gallery.

The New York native used rice as the medium for her sculpture, titled “100 Pounds of Rice,” because she wanted to reflect her Japanese culture, bringing a whole new meaning to the phrase, “you are what you eat.”

“I grew up in Japan, where rice was the biggest part of my diet. It still is. You could say that the cells of my body are made mostly from rice,” Kiritani said, according to an article in Hi Fructose Magazine, a contemporary art publication.

Kiritani’s rice sculpture will be on display at the National Portrait Gallery from March 23, 2013 until Feb. 23, 2014.