I had the utmost pleasure of meeting and interviewing Jason S. Yi at Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. Jason has been installing an exhibition entitled A Fragile Permanence, and it’s quite an astonishing site. I have never had the experience of watching an exhibition unfold and wanted to capture it “behind the scenes.” Did you know that passersby are encouraged to not only peer through the museum’s State Street windows, but are welcome to come inside and get this same amazing experience first-hand? I encourage the public to come out and explore before the finished product is unveiled on August 23, and learn a little more about the mastermind right here.
Art for me is interaction, whether it’s just observing and seeing the work and getting interpretations out of that or about revealing the process of making. When people walk into the space, some don’t actually talk to me while others engage in conversation, but they hear me talk about the work to my assistants on how to arrange and finish off a certain area. For me, the interaction is for them to get insight on how I produce the work and what I have in mind as far as my overall vision is concerned. If they want to engage in a conversation with me about the why and how, I will talk to them about that as well. The conversations are wide ranging from very practical stuff to fairly conceptual aspects about what I’m trying to do.
Do you prefer working with color or black and white?
It depends on the work. Two or three years ago I preferred not to use color, but lately I have been inserting color into my work. The reason was because of the stereotype and representation of color – color is related to emotions, mood, and so forth (red means this, green means that). I prefer a certain level of subtlety to my work. A lot of it comes from Asian landscaping, because when you look at it, it’s very minimal color or no color. I think I was influenced by that and always fascinated with how much information can be relayed with just an image that doesn’t have any color to it. More and more, I’m inserting a jarring color into what I do. Why am I doing that? Maybe it’s because I’m just evolving. I’m using orange as a practical, functioning color. There’s something about orange that attracts people, but at the same time, it symbolizes re-direction to things.
What is your favorite activity outside of the art world?
I like traveling as much as possible. The immersion into a different culture and region rejuvenates my senses about who I am, and gives me a good bearing about what I’m wanting to do with my art work and how I want to communicate what I do to my audience. I’m interested in what artists from other parts of the world are formulating, and what they do and are influenced by. Ultimately, I would like to think that we can see creative practices happening not just in a museum or gallery setting, but all around us, and for me to witness or discover that also feeds into what I do.
What is the Pitch Project in Milwaukee all about?
I’m one of four co-directors of the Pitch Project, which is a gallery and artist studio space. We have a large gallery within the building with 22 artists who reside there in artist studios. It’s a space that tries to bring the contemporary art world outside of our region to Milwaukee as much as possible. The Pitch Project, through the gallery space, tries to expose the community of Milwaukee to artists who are in the larger outside art world. The gallery has been open for about a year now and is really an exciting space.
I want to add that people will get a special treat if they come prior to the opening while this is being put up, because it will change and they can see the fascination from day to day.