"There is a lot of pretentious art speak that happens on the show and in galleries..."
by Windy City Times
Bravo Channel's Work of Art: The Next Great Artist has openly gay rising artist Young Sun from Illinois as part of the competition. For this second season the artists once again face challenges in groups and solo to win an exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum and $100,000.
The future looks bright for Sun and we brushed up on such topics as Prop 8 and hugging for 24 hours.
WCT: (Jerry Nunn) Hello, Young. Tell me a bit about your background.
YS: (Young Sun) I am Korean. I was born in Evanston. I went to school in Chicago. I worked for a year abroad in London and in Germany. I worked as a teacher in Korea for a few months. I really got bit by the travel bug as a student.
WCT: It is great to have a hometown person in this one as well. You are from Morton Grove?
YS: I am actually from Skokie, initially. That is where I went to high school and grew up. My parents were living in Morton Grove at the time of filming, which is why the press release says both Morton Grove and Skokie.
WCT: Did you study art in school?
YS: I did. I started taking art classes in high school and even earlier more as a hobby. I went to school at the Art Institute of Chicago for my undergraduate degree.
WCT: What medium do you like to work in?
YS: I focus mainly on photography but more recently on performance art. I also like making things with my hands so sculpture and instillation come into play as well.
WCT: How is it being judged on this show?
YS: It can be very brutal but anyone who has been through art school knows that this is a very standard critique process. You have to constantly defend your work with your peers and professors. I think Jerry Saltz said in his blog that the show is almost like The Next Great Grad Student. It is kind of true in the sense that you are in school again and having your professor like Jerry, Bill and China then you have the other students all talking about the work. They are tearing it apart one week and then praising it the next.
WCT: Isn't it funny how people talk during art events? They get cerebral and talk above people but art can be personal and everyone has an opinion.
YS: Yes. In art school you do so much training about theory and art history with all this complex writing, at times. You get lost in that and feel that you can only defend your work by relating it to other movements in history. It takes time once you have left school to realize that no one really cares about that. You have to talk about it in very human terms and be real. There is a lot of pretentious art speak that happens on the show and in galleries like you say. I think it just takes time for everyday language to talk about it so people understand what you are saying.
WCT: From taking art class in college myself, the teachers in school like to compare artists to other people. Who have you been compared to?
YS: It depends on the project but I did a portrait of a gay couple set very similar to what Catherine Opie did in the ‘90s. I was reading some message boards and someone said they looked at my website and it reminded them of Ryan Trecartin who made them break out in hives! He does these really frenetic videos and I took it as a compliment. It is always interesting to read what other people say about the work.
WCT: I did see the 24 Hour Embrace project that you did.
YS: That was a really interesting project for me because it was all about human connection. I had found a stranger on Craigslist who agreed to hold me for 24 hours just the midnight on New Year's until midnight of New Years on 2009. That is when I was first coming back to the country to look after my dad and had just broken up with my boyfriend of seven years so it was about these male figures in my life that I was losing contact with in a way. It was also great preparation for this reality show because it required so much endurance. It was good training for Work of Art.
WCT: I noticed on one episode you said you were a curator in New Zealand. How did that happen?
YS: I had taken a lot of art-history courses in college. I have always been interested in what other artists have been doing as well not just my own projects. When I was traveling through New Zealand I was interviewing for jobs and met this woman was just starting a new gallery. She didn't come from an art background but had a really strong business sense. She wanted me to help create a program for her. It was right time and right place. I had been working for galleries for eight years at that time. It was a great opportunity for me.
WCT: You work on a piece about Prop 8 on this next episode also. Someone knocks you down about it in the preview but the topic is still relevant.
YS: It is interesting for me because while I was on the show I was always trying to do these challenges that fulfilled the criteria but knowing it was going to be on television and broadcast to so many people I was hoping to integrate as much artwork to issues that I cared about as possible sometimes with more or less success.
I did the Prop 8 piece because it fit the challenge, which was to do a piece of pop art that is relevant to you and your time. It is an issue that I really care about as well. New York got marriage rights and living in New Zealand domestic partnerships for gay couples was available. It was weird to come back to Chicago and feel like we are really behind the times here. It is a cultural thing as well as a political one.
WCT: Do you want to stay in Illinois?
YS: I've left Illinois so many times but I always end up back here. I have a wanderlust sort of attitude. After two or three years in a place I get restless feet and have to go somewhere else. I think Chicago will always be one of my home bases for sure. The great thing about art is that you can do it anywhere!