For her solo debut at C. Grimaldis Gallery, Ko creates a site-specific installation entitled Escalante, the newest iteration in the artist’s Force of Nature series. Inspired by the canyons of southern Utah, Ko reconstructs the sandstone landforms with their curvilinear, gradated walls. The towering sculptural relief is created from cascading rolls of paper stacked floor to ceiling and shaped to fit the architecture of the gallery. Utilitarian Kraft paper transforms the gallery walls into undulating surfaces of intertwining light and shadow and immeasurable pages in suspended motion.
Escalante is accompanied by a selection of paper sculptures that trace Ko’s continuous experimentation with the material. She works by laboriously unwinding, and re-spooling miles of adding machine tape and submerging it in ink and graphite powder. As it dries, the paper swells into soft, biomorphic forms saturated with delicate lines. In recent works, rolled paper is shaped and thoroughly coated in glue, resulting in flawlessly engineered spirals that float weightlessly on the surface.
Cultural forms and patterns found in nature inform Ko’s extensive visual vernacular, which includes calligraphy, traditional Asian hairstyles, geological formations, glaciers and architecture. The work has an innately familiar geometry that is shaped by water and gravity, not unlike a canyon rock carved from forces of nature.
Born in Korea, Jae Ko received her BFA from Wako University, Tokyo in 1988 and her MFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore in 1998. She received the Anonymous Was A Woman grant in 2012 and the Pollock-Krasner Foundation grant in 2002. Formerly based in D.C. and Virginia, artist now works and lives in Maryland’s Western Shore. Her work is in the collection of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C. and numerous private collections throughout the United States.