Found stones and lattice-form sculptures blur the lines between humanity and nature as well as between art and design in Sung Jang’s latest exhibition at Volume Gallery. Deriving from year-long research that brings natural materials into the gallery space, the Chicago-based designer and artist bridges the two disciplines by constructing forms that exist both as sculptures and as functional objects—all at once. “Given,” Jang’s new series of designed objects does exactly that.
Stones sitting on pedestal-like constructed bases double as chairs, stools or small tables. A closer look reveals that the carefully chosen materials—marble, limestone and naturally deep black granite, supported by oak wood, brass and molded resin foundations—reflect a symbiotic relationship. To the artist, those deliberate combinations are analogous to humanity’s relationship with nature—the found stones are equivalent to the given, as in an equation, and the supporting structure acts like a variable, signifying human intervention.
“My inquiry started from the question of the role of the maker,” says Jang. “Taking on the Korean design mindset, my work was limited to finding the object from nature or within the daily environment and merely situating it for human use by discovering their talent. A found stone is supported by a fabricated structure to offer function as seating or table surface, allowing the user an interaction with unprocessed nature.”
Forcing the viewer to think deeper about the work, Jang brings each stone’s geographic point of origin as latitude/longitude information into the mix. The structures appear so far removed from their natural environment but also so connected to it—as if they are urging to merge back into it. Considering the sublime in nature, human fragility and the ephemeral nature of all things, a reassuring sense of harmony and connection with the world infuses the viewer’s consciousness.
It is in this experimental space between art and design, the artist’s intention and the raw abstract materials, that Jang offers an opportunity to appreciate nature as given. Maybe that is the most important thing to consider.
Through December 18, Volume Gallery, 1709 West Chicago, second floor
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