Feature Articles

September 2013

Coker College in Hartsville, SC, Features Works by JinMan Jo and John Chang

Coker College in Hartsville, SC, is presenting several new exhibits in the Cecelia Coker Bell Gallery, in the Gladys C. Fort Art Building, including: an exhibition of sculpture by South Korean artist, JinMan Jo, on view through Sept. 20, 2013, with a gallery talk on Sept. 20, at 3pm, and featuring mixed media paintings by John Chang, on view from Sept. 23 through Oct. 18, 2013, with a reception on Sept. 23, at 7pm.

On a personal level, JinMan Jo finds our society’s increasing focus on electronic media and consumerism disturbing. As relationships between people become electronically diluted, and consumer goods ever more short lived, he looks for symbols of strength in his sculpture. He works primarily in durable materials like stone, steel, and wood. Durable though they may be, he welds, wires, and cements these materials in ways that visually reinforce their durability. His sculptures appear ready to resist any assault and offer counterbalance to the ephemeral aspects of contemporary civilization:

“Thick steel bends during forging and hammering, thin wires are welded together, and weak things overlap and connect with each other to become strong. Each element makes an undeniable contribution to the whole. I want these substances to individually represent the required strength that is needed to withstand greater forces of nature,” says Jo.

Originally from South Korea, JinMan Jo received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in sculpture from the University of Seoul in Seoul, Korea, in 1999. He earned a Master of Arts and Master of Fine Arts degrees from the University of Iowa in 2002 and 2003.

Jo’s work has been exhibited in solo shows in the United States and Korea as well as numerous group exhibitions. His work is included in the collections of the Gail Art Museum in GaPyon, Korea; the Seosan Art Center, Seosan, Korea; the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Seoul, Korea; the Summit Street Gallery, Iowa City and the Utah State University College of Business in Logan, Utah. He has been honored twice with the Outstanding Achievement Award in Contemporary Sculpture by the International Sculpture Center. He currently teaches at the University of Wisconsin in Stevens Point.

John Chang’s large calligraphic paintings combine the influence of America’s Abstract Expressionist painters with the sacred nature of classical Chinese calligraphy. Chang notes, “Chinese students are conditioned to submit to authority, in part, through the rigorous requirement of learning to memorize and write several thousand characters flawlessly.” At the same time, students were bombarded with those same characters in the form of propaganda, which during Chang’s youth, were plastered to walls in China’s public squares.

Chang adds, “In classical Chinese, the script or shu, is so sacred that it is believed to be capable of affecting change in the natural order of things.” This use of the sacred shu for propaganda motivated Chang to “reclaim the energy of the written word.” Perhaps surprisingly to some, he found inspiration for his use of energetic marks and collage in the paintings, collages, and prints of Western Abstract Expressionists, Franz Kline and Jackson Pollock and Pop artist, Robert Rauschenberg.

“My calligraphic strokes commingle with expressive brushwork and drips, and the freedom of such abstract artists allows me to explore Chinese characters in a personal, reinvigorated way - connecting to and balancing vital energy. In merging the beauty of traditional painting technique, modernist performance-like gestures, as well as typography and imagery, I am forging an art that both creates and expresses my self. Embracing the chaos, or ran, I stand hopefully poised between the ambivalent remembrance and undetermined tomorrow,” says Chang.

Born and raised in Shanghai, China, John Chang is an artist based in southern California. His works have been exhibited at Alexander Brest Museum at Jacksonville University, Jacksonville, FL; Julina Togonon Fine Art, San Francisco, CA; Fresh Paint Art Gallery, Culver City, CA and S Cube Gallery, Laguna Beach, CA. John Chang holds an MFA in Visual Art from The Art Institute of Boston and a BA in Decorative Arts and Design from Shanghai Light industry College. He also studied with the well known Chinese artist, Xu Bing.

Coker College upholds and defends the intellectual and artistic freedom of its faculty and students as they study and create art through which they explore the full spectrum of human experience.

For further info check our SC Institutional Gallery listings, contact Gallery Director Larry Merriman at 843/383-8156 or visit (www.ceceliacokerbellgallery.com).

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