In today’s A.i.R. Reflections, we turn the spotlight over to Eunchi Chong, Session I’s only international resident. Arriving from Seoul, South Korea, Eunchi is a painter whose work concerns the nature of stones. In a brief interview, we had the opportunity to talk to her about her background, her work, and her experiences at Byrdcliffe.
How did you hear about Byrdcliffe?
Since finishing graduate school for Oriental painting last February, I’ve been searching for new sources of energy and inspiration. I looked around online and happened to come across Byrdcliffe. It seemed like the perfect place.
Can you discuss your current projects and what do you hope to accomplish at the residency?
I am currently drawing stones I’ve collected at Woodstock. Although I’m looking to refresh my creative endeavors, I’m also very interested in meeting new people and engaging with nature–for an artist, these experiences are vital as they serve as sources of inspiration. I hope to channel these experiences into my own projects.
Outside of the studio, can you describe your experience at Byrdcliffe? Has the change in environment affected your work in anyway?
Although I haven’t been here very long, Byrdcliffe has influenced me in numerous ways. By surrounding myself in nature, I feel as though I’ve engaged with my work on a much deeper level. The relationships I’ve developed with my peers, the communal elements, have led me to branch out, to feel connected with a larger world outside of the studio. Overall though, while the change in environment has affected me, I think my work on an intrinsic level, remains the same.
In your current work, you often convey rocks, depicting their designs, textures, and histories. What about rocks do you find compelling? What do you hope to convey through your depiction of rocks?
For me, the rocks symbolize the entire universe, an accumulation of the infinite. I love to see and interpret these immense details and histories, the light, wind, water, the immeasurable collection of time and space. I believe that everything in the world has its own accumulation, its own history, and I want my work to reflect this, these kinds of hidden intrinsic values. Even something as minuscule as a rolling rock signifies so much–we can sense the earth, nature, the living, the wind. This applies to not just rocks, but everything. So in many ways, my rocks serve as a metaphor to address these accumulations and histories.
Can you talk about your creative process–the materials you use, the approach you take–and how this process informs your work?
First, I observe the rock, interact with it, engage in a kind of unspoken dialogue. It’s sort of a spiritual act. After, I create some quick drawings of the rock. I then transfer it to a thin Korean paper which is strong and tough. Using charcoal and Oriental ink with water, I begin to layer my work. It is a very physical and movement-oriented process of adding and detracting from the image. Like the rock, this process is, in of itself, an act of accumulation.
You’ve painted mountainous landscapes, geological shapes, and now rocks. Where do you hope to take your work next?
Maybe it will be in a grain of sand? I have no idea what my future work will be like. Actually even a few years ago, I never imagined to be doing what I am doing now. Whatever it is, I intend to continue pursuing my interest in these sorts of histories and intrinsic values, meaning that my work can shift its focus towards anything in the world.