Each portrait in the exhibition is comprised of an assembly of nails. Some portion of a portrait has the nails closely compact together and some portion has the nails spread out, delivering a sense that they are almost roaming around the surface. Kept taut by the firmly standing nails is a black thread, continuing its long journey by using each nail as its cornerstone to change directions in an orderly manner. This helps the thread to avoid from being tangled up. Each layer of the thread adds more depth to the portrait than a simple pencil lead could have. All together, the nails and the black thread compose one whole portrait of the artist.
Self-portrait by Young Hyun Kim (11) depicts Young Hyun with his playful smile, holding up two of his fingers. It feels as if he is saying, “I got it. See you next time, buddy!”. On the other hand, the delicate placing of the nails and thread implies how serious and focused Young Hyun would have been while creating this amazing art piece. He added shadow by adjusting the frequency of the thread passing by each nail, which made the portrait “stand out” despite the fact that it was white and black.
Along with Young Hyun’s smile existed Joowon’s glance suspiciously looking at the viewers. Joowon Lee (11) depicted her glance with darkness around the middle of her forehead by sewing the black thread several times. Her resentful look staring up gives a feeling as if she is saying, “I know you ate all of my chocolate. Now, what are you going to do?”. The twisted eyebrows and firmly closed lips somehow evoke the sense of guilt among the viewers. It is very impressive how Joowon could draw out such emotion by using the materials commonly used in daily life.
The beauty of art, especially self-portrait, is that it is one of the most effective ways to describe the artist. Despite the fact that using nails and thread might have been an unfamiliar type of media for the them, the talented art students successfully portrayed the images of themselves. The same materials were used for all of the portraits in the exhibition, however, each one created an atmosphere that reflected the nature of its artist only. Even though the self-portraits show only one of the artists’ facial expressions, the long journey of the black thread represents, and even accompanies, the their lives.
- Grace Lee