Matchsticks, used motherboards and computer
chips, pins, buttons, and animal excrement might not strike you as ideal raw
materials for an artist, but contemporary artists know no material bounds.
in art run the gamut from the weird to the wonderful:
famously incorporated elephant dung into his paintings;
constructs ravishing tapestries from used bottle and tin can
creates sculptures from thousands of matchsticks, then sets them
on fire; and
transforms buttons, beads, and pins into monumental
For Hwang, the process of painstakingly
constructing images of blossoms, vases, birds, and Buddhas from thousands of
individual pins and buttons is inseparable from the work. It is a form of
meditation relating to the artist’s Korean heritage and Buddhist upbringing, in
which she projects an outline onto the wall, draws a line in its place, then
methodically fills the image with materials.
Hwang’s upcoming exhibition, “The
Snowfall of Spiders
,” at Leila Heller Gallery
, will transform the gallery space into an exquisite virtual
garden, featuring six new works that explore the life cycle and elements of Zen
Buddhism, including a multimedia installation suspended from the ceiling.
Composed of Plexiglas panels with embedded silver pins and paper buttons
interlaced with sparkling crystal spider webs, the work displays a video
projection of a snowy forest, which morphs into red cherry blossoms that are
then consumed by black spiders—in effect offering an eerie and poignant
metaphor for earthly cycles. Addressing universal themes with commonplace
materials, and transforming the ordinary into the extraordinary, Hwang reminds
us of both the miraculousness and fragility of life and art.