The Edgeless Divide


Sun Young Kang makes book and installation arts and was a fellow of the Center For the Emerging Visual Artists in Philadelphia from 2013 to 2015. From small intimate books to room size installations, she uses paper with its duality of strength and delicacy to create physical and conceptual space.

Kang has participated in the Sofia International Paper Art Biennial 2013 and the Pittsburgh Biennial ‘08 and numerous solo exhibitions and group shows both nationally and internationally.  At the Hybrid Book Fair at the University of the Arts in 2009, she received three Purchase Awards from various institutions and she is the winner of the Award for Young Artist from International Competition in Amateras Annual Paper Art in Bulgaria in 2011 and 2012.  Her work is also represented within PA State Museum Permanent collections, Museum of Modern Art Franklin Furnace Artist book collection and numerous Libraries Special collections.

Artist Statement

Nearly every facet of life that we understand is dependent on our visual perception of the world, predisposing us to only see the “present.” But it is not difficult to perceive that our world is composed of two antithetical ideas: presence and absence, life and death. These ideas can be understood in the Buddhist philosophy of “Emptiness”—every existence, every single moment that has ever existed, can only be conceived as either past or future. The abstract nature of this concept is often difficult to grasp, but my work is an attempt to secularize this fundamental idea.

Negative space in various structures of books or installations is the essential part of my work. The empty space suggests to readers or viewers a meditative moment. In this moment, the negative space provides an opportunity to reflect on one’s self and the meaning of Emptiness in our lives. I cut out pages, burn out texts, hang prints in space or cast various containers to create a physical and metaphorical Emptiness. The important parts of the structures are absent. The absence becomes a presence in the visual objects.

Most recently I have created installations consisting of many tiny tubes that question the boundary of all antithetical ideas. Boundaries can be physical and visual, but also language, religion, culture, politics, indeed all human relationships and social creations involve boundaries. Whether a boundary is physical or not, it does not just divide one entity from another, it implies another side or space or existence. Light and shadow and the delicacy yet strength of thin paper are metaphors for the inseparability of life and death. They are also installation devices creating two conceptual spaces.

Through the irony of my working process, which is visualizing non-visuals, I try to question this non-describable concept—the continual parallels of presence and absence, their inseparability. I also would like the audience to think about the meaning of absence in their lives as part of nature, through their own interpretation of “Emptiness.”

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Exhibition Details

Date: August 28 – November 1, 2015

Venue: Lobby Gallery

Exhibiting Artist: Sun Young Kang