What lies in the space between the familiar and foreign? A unique narrative of beauty? Fear of an unseen power? A quest for knowledge of the unknown?
For a larger part of the population who grew up imagining the earthly and unearthly, the conjured images can vary from unpleasant aliens to mystic creatures, evident from the expanse of entertainment, literature and science, surrounding the topic. But when it comes to art, especially art that concerns these foreign beings or elements, it lies in the subtle expression of beauty and continuity of life. Oddly, what seems perhaps most alien for art is the infinity of growth and life, paused in time. At Culture Object in New York, this narrative finds a visual manifestation, with the art and design world heralding towards the unknown.
Titled Janny Baek: The Pleasure of Growth, the solo exhibition by artist and architect Janny Baek brings a new narrative and story of the alien, to the gallery. With a collection of ceramic functional vessels that appear less like objects and more like living beings and form frozen in time, Baek creates an imaginative universe of her own. While some might appear as coral-like objects from underwater, others might remind one of a unique plant indigenous to another planet. The textures, colours, gradients and techniques of Baek’s works come together to enthral the observer and create stories of their own.
‘The Pleasure of Growth’ marks the first solo exhibition by the Korean American ceramic artist who oscillates between her interest in ceramics and architecture. Baek studied ceramics at the Rhode Island School of Design and then worked on sculpting characters for stop-motion films. She then pursued her masters in Architecture at Harvard and started a firm with her husband, Thomas McMahon. While McMahon-Baek Architecture flourishes, Baek finds comfort in ceramics. Therefore, the exhibition lies at the intersection of design, art and architecture, translating hope, pleasure and life.
“This exhibition is a creation story, and the ceramic objects are its characters. An air of mystery emanates from their strange but familiar appearance. Their misty ombre and gradients seem to come from within, built as they are of pigmented clay. It is impossible to look at them without imagining that, if you withdraw your attention, they might evaporate or scurry off, returning to the vast cloud of possible forms from which Janny manifested them. This first family of figures represent an introduction to Janny’s narrative and its characters who set the stage for a story of growth and transformation. In this first act, Genesis, the curtain has raised,” shares Damon Crain, founder of Culture Object.
The exhibition ‘Janny Baek: The Pleasure of Growth’ is on display at Culture Object, New York from March 22, 2023 to May 20, 2023.