Visiting Artist Jason Yi inspects nature with students

Kevin Miyazaki copyBy Lizzy Weekes

The sky: an entity seen by all every day. If asked to stop and look up, how would you describe the vastness? Forgetting all previous conceptions, can you possibly convey the subtle gradient of a sunset using only words? At a loss? What if I gave you thousands of zip ties in various colors: light blue, dark blue, gray, orange, yellow? Now, go paint the sky with zip ties.

Visiting artist Jason Yi has asked Lawrence art students to do just this.

“I wanted to represent the sky all the while acknowledging the architectural design of the building [Wriston Art Center],” Yi said. “The goal was to heighten the awareness of man-made and natural environments in which the LU community interacts with every day.”

Yi calls for a recognition of the familiar. Not only does the sky, a beautiful aggregation of color and texture, go unnoticed, but also do the architectural wonders we constantly see get shrugged off as measly buildings. Beauty can be found in our surroundings.

“It is important to not overlook the mundane and transform something seemingly inconsequential to have consequence,” Yi said.

The way people interact with their environment can be changed through this transformation. Yi wants to bring the focus inward with the sky installation, creating the natural from the artificial and putting it in a built space as opposed to its natural environment. Maybe then the public will realize the true aesthetics of nature.

“The configuration of constructed forms and images is an amalgamation of natural and built environments and challenges the viewer with conflicting contexts of place, setting and their own sense of orientation within the space,” Yi said.

This collaborative installation is just one of many projects Yi will present at a gallery opening Friday, January 16, 2015 at 6 p.m. in the Wriston Art Center. This being said, Yi is not just interested in architecture, although that is where he began.

“I studied architecture in undergraduate school but also took many art classes,” Yi said.

Art consumed the man. He could not give it up.

“Before long, making art became a habit and I worked hard to balance both architecture and art studies,” Yi said. “Then after graduation, I worked simultaneously as an architect in a firm and an artist who showed in galleries.”

Yi came to a point where he had to choose which profession he would pursue: art or architecture?

“It was difficult balancing both professions,” he said. “After much thought, I chose art.”

And after he chose art, Yi did not limit himself to one particular field. As any true artist, he explores every medium, selecting the best one for each job.

“Although I have been creating a lot of site-specific works lately, I am a multi-disciplinary artist,” Yi said. “I use drawings, photography, video, sculpture and installations to execute my ideas.”

These ideas mainly focus on the fact that all, both the organic and man-made, is beautiful. We must stop and smell the roses, admire the architecture, fathom the sky.