Bees represent the artist’s house

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LAWRENCE – The bee motif continues to fascinate artist Sunyoung Cheong and those who appreciate her metalwork in the form of jewelry.

She made around 65 pieces – including new brooches, earrings and pendants – for the “MAD on jewelry” December 6-11 at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York.

The annual MAD exhibition and jewelry sale by the world’s most innovative contemporary jewelers have been twice postponed by the pandemic, but opening in December means Cheong, a lecturer in the University’s visual arts department. from Kansas, can attend during his semester break. She is one of the forty or so artists invited to exhibit their work.

“The reason I did so many works in the middle of this chaotic semester is that I wanted to attend this exhibition to see the state of the art and teach my students about the current contemporary jewelry scene,” Cheong said. “This is a week-long event focused on contemporary jewelry, which you don’t always see so easily. In addition, this museum is committed to showcasing jewelry as an art form and it is the only museum to have a gallery dedicated to contemporary jewelry.

“It could be something that students could do as a studio artist in the future. Students don’t always know what to do after getting a BFA or MFA. They can work in some business areas, but if they are pursuing fine art jewelry as a freelance artist, this is one of the things they can do.

The works that Cheong showcased in the exhibition were produced using a variety of techniques, from the most modern CAD-CAM design to the most traditional lost wax casting and the Champlevé technique of application of colored enamel.

Cheong said she was inspired by the bee several years ago and continues to work on different iterations. For the native of Seoul, it is about notions of home.

“I moved to Kansas about 15 years ago,” Cheong said, “and at one point I started to wonder if Korea was my home or if Kansas was my home. was not sure, because I have American citizenship, but sometimes I feel like I don’t belong. … I started to think about the meaning of house, town, Kansas. And l “bee is one of the ideas I use to create a house, like a beehive. They develop their own houses, they work hard and they create these communities. It’s all related to human society, you know?

The bee is the insect of the state of Kansas, as Cheong only learned in 2016 when the Kansas Historical Foundation’s retail coordinator asked to have his jewelry transported to his museum stores. to Kansas History Museum and at State capitol in Topeka.

Cheong said the bee’s endangered status as a symbol of environmental degradation was of no concern to her when she started working with her, but now she appreciates that it can inspire viewers to identify with the work.

“Maybe I can share some of my environmental concerns with others by using the little gems,” Cheong said.

Then she also plans to translate the bee motif into larger-scale pieces, inspired in part by the digital design and manufacturing technology she teaches and uses.

“With this technology, it’s easy to manipulate the scale from very small to very large, to create whatever you want to create. So I want to explore different ways of using this technology.

“I plan to create a larger-scale sculptural piece in the future… maybe using two-dimensional shapes,” she said.

Picture: ‘My home’, 2019. Sterling silver, gold and stainless steel brooch by Sunyoung Cheong. Credit: KC Studio, Seoul, Korea.

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