JOO LEE KANG QUESTIONS NATURE
Initially one is struck by the detailed, precisioned control Joo Lee Kang exercises over her medium — a Bic ballpoint pen. Her renderings draw you in for a closer look as you marvel at the shading, the anatomical precision of the insects, animals and plant life she has executed with such depth of detail. But what stops you in your tracks are the grotesque and mutated flora and fauna that emerge with a closer observation.
Boston-based artist Kang’s work has an overriding Victorian motif — an opulence of delicate laces, festooned swags and the feminine use of lush abundance. But the fascination fades quickly when malformed animals with multiple appendages, misshapen features and mutated double heads begin to emerge.
Kang, 30, who was born in South Korea and earned her MFA at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and Tufts University, said, “By drawing mutated animals and plants, I question nature’s place in the modern context. What is nature? What is natural?” Her subjects portray an ambiguity of the possible definitions. She says she’s at a loss to describe what is natural in our present day due to cross-breeding and genetic engineering — ways that humans control and reconfigure the natural process. She asks the philosophical question, “Should the results of such human-developed processes be construed as a part of nature, or should nature exist independently of human progress?”