GR Interview: Artist J*Ryu

GR: Welcome to Southern California. Tell me about your new place and your working studio set up situation?

Thank you very much. I currently live in the South Bay with some fellow artists including Aaron “Angry Woebots” Martin and Mathew Curran, a fellow North Carolinian that made the cross country move with me.  We have a converted loft in the back of our house where we can paint, cast resin and sculpt amongst other things, all to facilitate the different types of projects that each of us might be working on. It’s definitely a change from being in NC where I was essentially working in an artistic vacuum on my own – being amidst many artists that inspire me has definitely given me a new-found appreciation for being able to share techniques, offer and receive critiques and have constant constructive feedback.

GR: This exhibition features pieces that are fully sculpted and not customized. Is this a new direction? Will you still customize?

For this particular show I wanted to focus more on form, rather than the narrative or emotive qualities in many of my previous pieces. Although I am often recognized for being a part of the toy customizing scene, I prefer to create original sculptures for shows where I have the opportunity to showcase a larger body of work, work that is not contingent upon modifying or customizing existing base platforms.  That said, I will still participate in customizing shows depending on if I feel that I can create a piece that is fundamentally sound in theme and execution.

GR: Animals are an obvious theme this time out, yet it’s not limited by mammals, insects or reptiles, yet there’s a common bond between them. Can you talk about how you chose which animals to depict? 

I chose to call this body of work “Biorgasmica”, a study of what it would be like to meld various elements of baroque stylings, the human face and the shape of various creatures together.  When determining what animals I wanted to involve, it mostly came down to animals where I could envision how those disparate elements could more easily coalesce into one cohesive creature.  The final roster of creatures tended to be those that were organically armored, whether with a carapace or scales, or those that had body shapes that would lend themselves to the incorporation of faces or detailing.

GR: Also explain what process you went through to create these works. It’s hard to tell what material you’re using. 

I primarily sculpted the creatures from scratch using a two part epoxy resin and/or polymer clay, incorporating metal findings/decorative designs and filigree to accent.  For the jellyfish, the clear dome was vacuum formed plastic.

After each creature was chosen, I created the internal armature with wire and then laid down a base layer of epoxy material for the basic shape. The next step was to refine the bodies with more epoxy and add detailing such as scales and faces. The last step was to detail them with the metal findings and finally painting, both with a matte black and then painted gloss.

GR: While you work on various ventures, is being a full time artist the ultimate goal for you?

I am most interested in plaintive emotive and narrative elements in art. To that end, I consider my using sculpture as just one method to help convey those things. Whether I paint or sculpt, write or record, I will always want to be a storyteller first, and then determine which medium would be best suited in order to most accurately convey those ideas in my head.  I would love the opportunity to continue creating art for shows or products but knowing myself, I will always also continue to explore all the things that interest me outside of that realm as well.