American artist Soo Sunny Park created a suspended, undulating structure made from shaped sections of chain-link fencing in a new installation commissioned for the Rice University Art Gallery. Within the chain-link fencing’s cells, thousands of iridescent acrylic Plexiglas shapes will reflect and refract both natural and artificial light. As the work of art changes colors from yellow to magenta to deep purple when viewed from different angles, the effect will be similar to the shifting hues and sheen of butterfly wings or peacock feathers, according to Rice Gallery.
“Unwoven Light” will be on view from April 11 to Aug. 30. An opening celebration April 11 from 5 to 7 p.m. will feature a gallery talk by the artist at 6 p.m. Park will also speak at a luncheon reception April 12 from noon to 1 p.m. All events are free and open to the public.
According to the gallery’s news release, the installation continues Park’s investigation into the ephemeral qualities of light and how light affects the perception of architectural space. This interest in the qualities of natural phenomena and sensory experience led her to create sculptural installations conceived to change in appearance under different conditions.
A group of Rice students supported Park and Rice Gallery with the installation process, including Jessie Anderson, a senior at Sid Richardson College and visual arts major. Anderson said working with the artist and gallery team has been an invaluable experience.
“The fantastic thing about an installation gallery is that every piece is put together and comes to life for the space,” Anderson said. “This one has been an impromptu process. Sunny came in with a model, but for the most part, everything that we’ve been doing has been on the fly, responding to the situation and the space.”
Inspired by her studies and work at Rice, which included a class on curating taught by Rice Gallery Director Kim Davenport, Anderson plans to stay in Houston after graduating and find installation work at area art museums. “I’m really interested in installation art,” she said. “With installation work, you create an artistic condition rather than just a piece you look at. There’s a different way you engage with installation art, because an installation is an engagement with a space. You’re consciously or unconsciously reacting to that space.”
Born in Seoul, South Korea, Park received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in painting and sculpture from Columbus College of Art and Design, Columbus, Ohio, and a Master of Fine Arts degree in sculpture from Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. After a residency at Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, she worked in St. Louis as an installation artist and lecturer at Washington University. In 2001, she was named the River Front Times “Best of 2001, Sculptor of St. Louis.” Park is a recipient of the Joan Mitchell Foundation MFA Grant and grand-prize winner of the 19th annual Michigan Fine Arts Competition. She was chosen for the Cité Internationale des Arts studio residency in Paris and the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center Arts and Literary Arts Residency in Bellagio, Italy.
Her most recent installations are Capturing Resonance (2011-12), created with composer Spencer Topel for the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum in Lincoln, Mass., and SSVT (South Stafford, Vt.) Vapor Slide (2013/2007) at Cranbrook Art Museum, Bloomfield Hills, Mich. Park lives and works in Hanover, N.H., where she is associate professor of studio art at Dartmouth College.
The Rice Gallery, located on the first floor of Sewall Hall, is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. except on Thursdays, when the gallery stays open until 7 p.m. On Sundays the gallery is open from noon to 5 p.m. The gallery is closed on Mondays and university holidays.
For more information on the installation, visit http://ricegallery.org/ or call 713-348-6069.