Hello everyone, My name is Youjin Um and I’m [a] Korean metalcraft artist. I miss my childhood memories and make space [to put] each of my precious memories and feel through the way I pierce… I like sawing the most, so I make a shape by joining one side at a time. My work is healing. My space is being created through sawing work. It creates a landscape that is freely placed with objects such as blocks.
Tell us about your work:
Memory is like a kaleidoscope. It forms countless networks in it. Patterns and patterns overlap, and another order is created so we can think of stability, peace and the future. I heal and find consolation in precious memories of my youth. In a world that changes ever-more rapidly, our old memories fade and we grow tired. But we humans also find the strength to push our limits when we reflect on our memories. In such a spirit of our power and resilience, I have collected and distilled my memories, one by one, into each of my pieces.
How did you begin your material smith journey?
Many years ago, I had the opportunity to visit a solo exhibition gallery for an interview for a school assignment. Until that day, I was just a normal student like my other friends. I still remember how I felt back then when I first saw the professor’s work. I felt inspired by what I saw, and luckily, I had a chance to talk to the professor… I had a lot of questions about her work, and I [asked] as many as possible… She was kind enough to answer all of them.
With the good memories and energy of the day, I remember her as ‘the person I admire’, and this became the source of my energy. Since then, I have worked harder on perfecting my sawing skills in metal craft. I am forever grateful to her for teaching me how this work can help me overcome sadness and despair. Her work inspired me to decide to become someone who ‘works harder than anyone else to become an expert in my field of work.
How does your identity relate to your work? If at all?
My work is based on my childhood purely. I created a virtual space with hexagonal structures that provide regularity and stability, and worked on the works with significance in the pursuit of stability and happiness that modern people want with a sense of insecurity.
I hope to see happiness by changing the perspective of looking for a new self and seeing through my work. In such a spirit of our power and resilience, I have collected and distilled my memories, one by one, into each of my pieces.
What are the main concepts in your work?
I fill this space with various memories. These memories are the overlapping images, fragments, or videos of childhood that remain as afterimages, making me feel happy through the space. Sometimes when I am tired and exhausted in reality and all kinds of noise interfere with my vague bright childhood memories, I still find mental stability when looking at the spaces I created. As a screenwriter would say, the theme is decided by the images that come to mind, the concept became spaces through a kaleidoscope containing various memories and I started to fill in varied psychological contents.
Can you share a bit about your conceptual development?
Each piece of work reveals the artist’s original sensibility. I think the work of human sensitivity so far is superior to the sophistication of the machine. My work can be seen in particular as an example. People thought it was a machine-made finished product, but they looked closely and noticed it . Of course, viewers find something more special than the accuracy of the machine that cannot be expressed in words.
How do you take a break and reset?
I enjoy imagining my space by daydreaming a lot.
What is your favorite tool, material, or process?
My work is sterling silver as the main material, sawing as the main technique. My work changes in appearance, but not in the nature or style of the material. My work begins with various developments in the structural form of hexagonal, and I draw with Rhino 3D to produce a schematic diagram. Subsequent work on craftsmanship is carried out using silver plates
What is something no one has ever asked you that you would like to answer?
The current social environment is in a bad condition, but to overcome it, I have to adapt to it best as possible. While working with integrity, I will continue to be interested in the environment. And I will become a more passionate craftsman by receiving a lot of attention and encouragement from people through continuous and diverse promotions. I will try to keep my initial mindset for this work.
*** All interviews have been edited for clarity and brevity