The Light in the Darkness

by San Keum Koh

May 3-25, 2003  Reception Sat. May 3, 4-6 P.M.


The New York Times No 1,
Acrylic, adhesive 4 mm pearl beads on panel 24"x24." 2000

Have you ever observed a beautiful sunset or sunrise over a hill? The beginning of darkness and loss of light are scary and the coming of new light is always exciting and it delights in new growth. Recently, I lived through a period of blindness. The experience of sinking into a complete darkness then seeing the world emerge again slowly and gently through the colors and shapes of my loved ones has been the light that brought the revolution in my life and artwork.

When I entered into the darkness, I saw all shapes in silvery grayness. My first evidence of light started with lines of shape bounced off forms in the dark and it led to desires to touch and feel what surrounded me. I chose shiny dots—artificial pearl beads—to incorporate into my artwork. It was a meditative and laborious linier process that counter balanced the concept of the legibility of physical manifestation. During this period of isolation I connected with the outside world by the sounds of news from radio and TV without seeing the screen. When I started to see in my darkness, one of my first reactions was a desire to read in the bright light and use newspaper articles and books in my work.

From a dot, lines are created to compose shapes and then arriving at form. Using newspaper articles or book as a point of origin, I put down a dot instead of an alphabet on prepared panel to create form while seeking ineffable transliteration through aesthetic beauty. The labor-intensive process of arranging pearl beads in the pattern of printed words or covering an object pushed me to search for a still point in the emotional darkness of my life. The close attention and repetitive actions required during this endeavor helped me to work toward a meaning. The ritual of creation is slow, careful, and deliberate; through this I am able to meditate on the heedless shifting of historical events that affect me, however near or far I may be from them.

The black light in this installation crystallizes the forms further, while bringing forth another plane. Seeing the dots, lines, shapes and forms glisten from the darkness achieves two kinds of spaces, one that is a play of positive and negative spaces, while the other forming a bridge between internal and external universes. 

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