Visiting Artist Colloquium features multi-disciplinary artist

Multi-disciplinary, Milwaukee-based visual artist Jason S. Yi addressed his work and community artistic engagement yesterday afternoon as part of the UW Art Department’s weekly Visiting Artist Colloquium series at the Elvehjem.

Yi creates video, sculpture, photography drawing, multimedia and interactive installations. He is internationally recognized and his work belongs to the permanent collections in Milwaukee, Kamiyama, Japan, Los Angeles and New York. His pieces explore topics relating to belonging, terrestrial relations, the displacement and manipulation of space and many other complex elements of our human existence alongside the natural landscape.

Speaking to an audience largely made up of student artists and art faculty, he outlined detailed narratives regarding his process and inspiration for specific projects, offering advice to practicing artists along the way. His work spans a vast and diverse range of skills, and he noted that exploring new skills and uncomfortable territories is an essential part of his creative process. The work he presented ranged from videos of his parents praying in Korean to photos of a large sculpture made of plastic orange construction fencing.

“I challenge myself to be unpredictable. I challenge myself to make work that stretches my abilities,” Yi said.

He described a time he agreed to the task of producing a museum-ready piece in a matter of three days, and advised that artists approach their work and artistic willingness with the same sense of whole-hearted trust in their abilities.

“Often times, you have to have faith in what you do, and you have to back it up with an effort and faith on your part that might be daunting,” Yi said.

In addition to creating and exhibiting his work, he is heavily involved in supporting artists and the art community in Milwaukee. He talked about his work with the Plum Blossom Initiative that aims to support young emerging artists and emphasized the importance of getting out into the community as an artist, regardless of age or experience.

“I think in many ways, artists have the responsibility to be the resistor, to resist authority and activate the community that you’re in,” Yi said. “Don’t you want to make the environment you’re in culturally more rich? Don’t wait.”

The Visiting Artist series brings a new artist to deliver a talk each Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. in Room L160 of Conrad A. Elvehjem Building. The colloquium is free and open to students the public.

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