Juror’s statement

The Korea Arts Foundation of America’s second annual Award for the Visual Arts firmly establishes the prestige and effectiveness of the organization’s program.

Entries submitted from throughout the United States for consideration by the program’s three-person jury were exceptionally high in quality. The works of virtually all the applicants clearly reflected the artists’ keen professionalism and clear familiarity with the aesthetic and theoretical issues facing the increasingly global art world of the 1990s. The task of narrowing the field to three or four most accomplished artists was not easy; and selecting a single awardee was downright difficult – not because of dissension among the jurors but rather because of our agreement that the final candidates were all such strong contenders. Among our final choices were the haunting and enigmatic performance/ installation works of Mary Ann Kim Rich; Chang Woo Lee’s moving and compassionate photographs documenting the lives of homeless people, who have become so much a part of urban America; and Sung Hee Hahn’s constructions, incorporating old Korean photographs, exploring issues of cultural identity.

In the end, this year’s award was given to an outstanding sculptor, Sook Jin Jo, who uses junk-old doors, scrap plywood panels, and other discarded materials – scavenged from demolition sites and the trash piles of Brooklyn, New York, where she lives and works. She combines such detritus of daily life into dramatic, large-scale assemblages, engaging that found debris so as to bring out what she describes as the “inner life” of her materials. Her art thus resembles forms of some modern Western art, but art infused with a distinctly Asian philosophy and spiritual description of the nature of the material world.

Awardee Sook Jin Jo, the excellent artists whose work has earned them honorable mention, and the many artists who submitted their works for consideration to this year’s competition, have brought distinction to themselves, their achievement, and to the Korea Arts Foundation of America.


Sook Jin Jo (b. 1960, Gwangju, Korea) received her M.F.A. from Hong-Ik University in Seoul, Korea (1985) and had her first solo exhibition that same year using expressionistic constructions of new, old and abandoned plywood that sought to explore the boundaries between painting and sculpture.

In 1988, she came to New York and received her second M.F.A. from the Pratt Institute (1991). During her study at Pratt, she had her New York solo debut at the O.K. Harris gallery (1990) and that same year appeared in the video magazine, Art Today, featuring thirteen artists, including Jenny Holzer, Ilya Kavakov, Cindy Sherman, Cy Twombly and Jennifer Bartlett.

Since then her work has been presented in numerous exhibitions, including the Lodz Biennale, Poland (2004), the Gwangju Biennale (2004), the Smithsonian Institute, Washington, DC (2003), the “Unexpected Collections “ of Martin Z. Margulies at The Art Museum, Florida International University, Miami (2002), the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Korea, Kwacheon, Korea (2002), the Socrates Sculpture Park, New York (1999), Il Min Museum, Seoul (1998) and Exit Art, New York (1997).

Her work has appeared on the cover of Sculpture magazine (September 2003) and Art In Culture (Seoul, Korea) (September 2002) with accompanying feature articles and has been published in many newspapers, magazines and books, including Art in America, Art News, The New York Times, Newsday, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Miami Herald, Flash Art, Art Asia Pacific and the 1994 and 2002 publications of The History of Korean Contemporary Art.

She has received a public art commission for the new L.A. Metro Jail project in downtown Los Angeles from the City of Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department (2004); a Site-Specific Sculpture Fellowship from Global Arts Village, New Delhi, India (2005); a grant from the Korean Culture and Arts Foundation (2004); a Residency Fellowship from the Sacatar Foundation (2001) and the Stone Quarry Hill Art Park (2000); an Artist Fellowship from the Socrates Sculpture Park (1999); a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant (1996); and a Korea Arts Foundation of America (KAFA) award (1993).

Her work can be found in private and public collections, including the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Korea, the Erie Museum of Art in Erie, Pennsylvania, the Young Un Museum of Contemporary Art, Kyoungki-Do, Korea, the João Ubaldo Ribeiro School in Itaparica, Brazil, the Stone Quarry Hill Art Park in Cazenovia, New York, the Housatonic Museum of Art in Westport, Connecticut and the Martin Z. Margulies Collection in Miami, Florida.

Color of Life, an award-winning documentary film featuring her wood construction and public art installation of the same name, by WMBC-TV: director Gutaek Kang (1999), has been televised in Korea and the United States. She recently completed construction of a permanent public art installation entitled “Isan“ (2005) at the Global Arts Village, Delhi, India, and currently lives and works in New York City.

She recently completed construction of a permanent public art installation entitled “Isan“ (2005) at the Global Arts Village, Delhi, India, and currently lives and works in New York City.

Artist’s Website