From the exhibition <Lalala>

Things Trees, Light, and Wind Make
Artist Yang Ji-yoon who makes installation artworks using Korean traditional paper ‘hanji’ gave us an interview on how nature heals us while travel gives us comfort.
Hanji is usually made from the bark of paper mulberry or paper bush trees that belong to the family Moraceae. The Korean word ‘jongi’ also has its origin in the Chinese characters ‘jeopi’ meaning the bark of the paper mulberry tree. Hanji was created for letters to be written on. However, for some people, it becomes an object that reflects nature. Artist Yang Ji-yoon’s works are mostly hanging mobile installations using hanji. When light brushes past her hanging object, you will witness a magical scene where a natural color occupies the whole space. 


Shape of Wind

Cycling Back to Nature Thru Art
Yang has recently participated in an artwork for a campaign launched by a beauty brand. Her work adds a twist to the meaning of the Korean word ‘baram’(wind). During this prolonged period of severance and isolation, people sincerely wish(also ‘baram’ in Korean) to reconnect and form relationships. Yang brings out this sentiment through her mystical and mesmerizing work made of recycled hanji from the company’s gift boxes. Her artwork features over 13,000 circular hanji pieces measuring 6cm in diameter, lacquer-dyed and glued for assembly. The installation is in itself inspiring, but so is the process of paper boxes made of natural material recalling nature in the form of hanji.
During the interview, we asked the artist of her thoughts on her work, nature, and travel. Her answers are full of passages showing her sincere belief in the gifts of comfort and recovery nature provides us with.
Meeting March in December, Ohmarch
Q. The title ‘oh,march’ is interesting. Is ‘Oh’ an exclamation?
A. There is no full blooming of flowers but a lingering cold in March, yet you also get to feel warm sunshine for the first time in that year. Such a moment gives you great comfort. ‘Ah, the dreary winter is over and the much-awaited spring is soon arriving.’ I think March carries hope. I wanted to work on something that delivers a bit of warmth even without the flowery details. That’s why the title is ‘oh,march,’ literally.

Q. Please introduce yourself as an artist to our readers.
A. To explain my present work of 2021, I sketch mental images I receive from nature in the air. I create objects using hanji as the main material for its warm texture and transparency, and make expanded versions for space installation projects.

Yang Ji-yoon posing next to her work

Q. What motivated you to choose hanji among various sorts of paper?
A. I discovered hanji while I was searching for an eco-friendly paper material. I was impressed by the fact that the material was going to be made from the bark of paper mulberry trees that grew less than a year old without harming the existing forest because the particular tree grows faster than grass. I also liked its bleaching process of relying on lye and plenty of sunlight, better than the one requiring the use of chemicals.
I feel so much at ease whenever I see or touch hanij. The thin sunji gently reflects light, while the thick samhapji is as warm and cozy as pressed cotton. I wanted to work in an area where the characteristics of beautiful hanji that I feel can be highlighted.

Q. As you continue working with hanji, are there any new advantages that you’ve discovered?
A. The charm of hanji from my perspective is two fold. First is the permeability of light. When you hold up hanji with your hands, you can see the entangled dak(paper mulberry) fiber in it as light shines through the sheet. When it’s folded repeatedly, that charm doubles. If you visualize the process of catching your breath and emptying your mind when you meditate, it will be similar to hanji holding light in it.
Second is the soft dak fiber you feel around the edges of hanji. It is something that can become a margin of error if modern standards are to be applied, but right now it reminds me of a gentle flow of wind, only maximizing the charm of hanji. I personally prefer materials that have a room for light to seep in, to a certain level.

Yang Ji-yoon at work

Installation done for Aesop Harvest Campaign

Q. Your works have refined yet colorful tones.
A. I completed ‘lalala’ hoping it would convey the positive feeling upon spring’s arrival. I used machine-made hanji to express the colorway inspired by the thin-coloring technique used on traditional folk paintings. The texture of the dak fiber exposed on the hanji’s surface, however, makes it difficult to print the colors as vividly as regular paper. That creates a hazy look. It was not my intention but ended up being a perfect match for the colorway and the vibe I was going for.

Q. How did you come up with the idea to build mobiles or hanging installations with hanji?
A. I didn’t plan on building hanging objects in the first place. My main working method happens to be to hang objects in the air because it could accentuate the beauty of hanji. The most amazing moment to me was when hanji transmitted light as it swayed to the wind. So my definition of hanji is the ‘paper of light and wind.’

Radish in Love


Hanji prepared for work

Nature-Inspired Art by Yang Ji-yoon
Q. Your work ‘Shape of Water’ at the Bogugot exhibition in Gimpo was particularly impressive.
A. The thematic consciousness of that work originated from a song called ‘Dream of Becoming Water.’ Little droplets become rain, clouds, and mountains. The underlying idea is that water is the basis of life and that everything is interconnected, running a full circle. It began as a configuration of water but now there is no set plan or sizes.

Q. Your ‘lalala’ project drew much attention.
A. Lalala is about installing mobiles that use hanji and the fabric used in making hanbok. I was inspired by the subtle gradation technique used in traditional colored paintings. In order to express the feeling of spring that conveys seasonal vitality, hanji was cut with sprightly curved lines. I also took time to find a name that portrays the energetic vibe of the work and landed on ‘lalala’ in the end. The curved lines of the mobile and the cursive writing of ‘lalala’ create a natural harmony.

Q. Your work has a feeling of liveliness thanks to the wind and light affecting the hanging object installation. What does nature mean to you?
A. Plants are the medium that carries my art, as well as the mirror reflecting my situation. When I’m mentally exhausted, I find courage and solace from a tender plant that has rooted in the narrow gap between concrete structures. The phototropism of plants, where they bend or distort themselves to turn toward the sun, also shows their strong will to live. It’s unconditional. It teaches us that there can be no excuse when it comes to the matter of life, and that toughens me.

Shape of Water

My Grass

Grassland and Forests Found on Travel
Q. Do you have a favorite walking trail?
A. I like taking a walk along the ridges of the hills at Olympic Park in the evening. The night view is fantastic, and the path is not too wide to attract too many people. People who are on the path appear as little dots on a long line, which is visually interesting. It looks like an element of formative art.

Q. Do you engage in any activity while you’re walking?
A. My mind is usually full of ideas and I tend to have my eyes fixated on the ground when walking. It has led me to observe grasses and plants sprout between the rocks. When my mind becomes
calm and I have my thoughts sorted out, I often gradually raise my eyes to the sky.

Olympic Park

Q. What do you prioritize when you travel?
A. When I travel, I try to spend as much time in nature as possible. If there is no specific agenda, I avoid crowded indoor spaces but get as much walking done as I can.

Q. Can you recommend a travel destination that you would like to revisit?
A. I would like to go see the wetland in Suncheonman Bay. I was there twice in 2020, in summer and fall. It was a great experience. Walking on the deck that crosses the wetland, watching the distant scenery, and discovering little critters living in the mud flat were all fun. It rained one day so I walked up the hike carrying an umbrella, and I found the trail pleasant. The rain must have added a certain effect to the quaint ambience.

Suncheon Bay Wetland

Q. If you were to take one of the works from out to nature, which area or place do you think will be the best pick? And for what occasion?
A. The signature work of is ‘Radish in Love.’ It depicts a radish transformed by the power of love. I’d like to display it in the green radish field before harvest.

Q. Have you ever imagined what the most special trip for Yang Ji-yoon would be?
A. I would love to live a few months in a rural town surrounded by nature. Have a little patch of land to grow my own crops and vegetables.

Artist Yang Ji-yoon's Instagram 
December 2021 Editor:Jung Jaewook
Yang Jiyoon

Where to stay?

  • December 2021
  • Editor: Jung Jaewook
  • Cooperation: Yang Jiyoon
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