Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Wondering Wednesday: Home in Transition

Since leaving my childhood home-the home I was brought to as a baby and lived in for eighteen years, I have lived in fourteen different apartments and homes, I never imagined that the reality of "home" would be in a state of constant flux. This has caused me to ponder often on the meaning of home and how that concept influences my life. Because of the fluidity of places I have experienced, I have fixated on the concept of home as being an inner place based on familial relationships, rather than a constant actual location. Home is where I am with family-my husband, children, parents, and siblings. I have worked hard to create stable, healthy relationships with loved ones. I often dream  of homes, always in a state of transition: I am always moving in and out and exploring the possibilities and flaws of different homes. I have thought of this a lot of over the years but have never encountered art which visualized many of my thoughts and feelings about the transitory nature and experience of physical homes, until now.

Today I visited the Contempary Art Center in downtown Cincinnati. I didn't have a purpose other than wanting to check out the building. Currently, the CAC is housing an interesting exhibit called, Passages, by Do Ho Suh, a Korean-American artist. My first impression of Do Ho Suh's pieces was how playful they were. The first thing I saw were these huge pieces made of out thin, transparent fabric, beautifully representing stairwells, stair-railings, and the inner walls of homes. All the details were elegantly and precisely articulated within the pieces. The flexibility, fragility, and transitory nature of the materials used to portray very solid and concrete structures gave me pause. The traditional concept of a home, at least in the American psyche, is that it is a place where one grows roots and grows upward and outward. Do Ho Suh's pieces challenge that idea-showing that perhaps the idea of home is more illusory than real-and that our feelings and experiences in the home provide the real development, rather than the structure itself. 

Do Ho Suh also created solid house frames but they were bland, neutral, and unfinished, suggesting to me that it is the owner or tenant who creates the character and feeling of the home. A home is really just a blank canvas that is dependent on an artist (or occupant) to bring it to life and imbue the space with meaning. 

I laughed with delight at the interesting appliance art Do Ho Suh created with more transparent fabric, thin pieces of wire, and pen. The toilet, sink, oven, tub, microwave, bathroom vanity, and refrigerator were beautifully imitated. Again, the medium he chose was playful, interesting and suggestive of the temporary nature of seemingly permanent and important household objects. 

I also spent a lot of time examining the wall art. Do Hoh Soh used thread on white cotton paper to examine what life is like in a constant state of transition from homes, cultures, cities, and places. The variety and depth of those transitions impact a person in significant ways and cannot be expressed or conveyed in a single sentence, or one artistic piece, but beg to be examined from different angles, in different mediums, and from different perspectives. 

I truly appreciated Do Ho Suh's exhibit because he seemed to express visually what life is like when one is always in transition. I think he captures the depth and breadth of that state. I also felt like he approaches his art with joy and curiosity, making his art energizing and compelling to his audience. 

It is a curious thing to live in a home, knowing how temporary one's sojourn will be. Sometimes I revel in the experience and pretend I will be there forever. Other times, I barely settle in, ready to pack my boxes at a moment's notice. It's a psychological game I play with myself often-trying to settle in without rooting myself so deeply that I am permanently damaged from the uprooting. Do Ho Suh's exhibit, Passages, reminds me that I am not alone in this experience, but that I can find meaning, experience, and even joy in my life.


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