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Sun Young Kang
Pittsburg, PA

The Way to Be Empty, 1
Hand cut, transfer print on Okawara, Bananaleaf paper for clamshell box
7 1/3 x 10 1/3 x 1 ˝ " (closed)


The Way to Be Empty, 2
Incense burning on Okawara, Warahansi, Brown paper
9x 11 ˝ x 8 "(closed)


Sun Young Kang is a native of Korea, where she received a BFA in Korean Painting from Ewha Woman’s University. After working briefly as a children’s book illustrator and designer, she moved to the United States and entered the MFA Book Arts/Printmaking program at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where she received her degree in 2007.

She has participated in numerous juried group exhibitions both nationally and internationally. Recently, her body of works is being shown through the two solo exhibitions in Pittsburgh where she currently resides and works as a book conservation technician at the Carnegie Public Library of Pittsburgh.

In her work she uses delicate Asian paper in a meditative and sensual way and explores various book and installation structures to create spaces that reflect and embody her philosophy of Buddhism, her understanding of what life means, and her memories of family.

Artist's statement

For me Buddhism is less a large philosophical idea than it is an approach to understanding the common and everyday. Now that I am outside of my culture, I am acutely aware of my past experiences in Korea. I use my personal experiences and memories to talk about human life in general, human life as part of nature, a central idea in Buddhism.

I often use the number 108, which is significant in Buddhism, in my book structures or installations. Viewers participate in a meditative practice similar to Buddhists who repeat their vows 108 times and tell 108 beads. Usually I cut pages, burn out texts, and repeat printing 108 times--a meditative process for myself, but also the means to create a meditative atmosphere in my work. This process and these objects are ways to approach Buddhism as a truth of life.

Recently, I have been using the personal narrative of my family to approach the idea of the inseparability of life and death. I have created a life-size folding screen, a kind of accordion book, and hanging scroll books with pages of burnt-out text. When lit, both text and viewers cast shadows. Light creates shadow just as life creates death. My story is about the endless circulation of life. Death is not the end, but the other side of life and a part of it. The lost come back as a memory. Important in Buddhism is the idea of the transmigration of souls and the interconnections of all of nature.

Sun Young Kang's work appeared in the following exhibition(s) organized by The Center for Book Arts

I will cut thrU: Pochoirs, Carvings, and Other Cuttings
 Organized by Alexander Campos, Executive Director and Amber McMillan, Artist and Instructor
In Between Presence and Absence
(2009) Hand cutting on kozo paper, screenprint, book board, book cloth
(un)Contained Vessels
 Artist Members Annual Exhibition, Co-organized by Alexander Campos, Executive Director, The Center for Book Arts, and Pamela Spitzmueller, Book Artist and James W. Needham Chief Conservator for Special Collections, The Harvard University Library and the College Library
The Way to be Empty
(2006) Incense burning, Japanese papers (okawara, warahansy), brown paper; 108 small boxes in 5 large boxes

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