Published on May 26, 2020. David Joo is a Charlottesville based origami artist and papermaker pursuing new expressions in folded paper. He is currently a resident incubator artist at the McGuffey Art Center. The online incubator group exhibit Cracked will open in June and will feature paper works made in the past year. David was the winner of the the Fall 2019 Charlottesville SOUP grant.
In the Working from Home series, Charlottesville artists are sharing about their work and life in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. David is our fourth featured artist.
1. Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m an origami artist and papermaker. I grew up in Alexandria, VA and studied music and chemistry at UVA. I started taking my art seriously about a year ago now. As a kid, I spent a lot of time folding paper going off books I got at the library. Fast-forward to college and I became more aware that it’s not all paper boats and animals. It’s tricky to say what I’m “about” when I’ve only been at it for this long. I’m still developing a basic creative practice and am still learning a lot about how to work. There’s so much to be done with just folding paper, even more when you get down to the level of papermaking. It’s really animating work.
2. How has the pandemic changed your daily life?
Everything has flattened. Good things bring less joy while inconveniences and things that gave me trouble before lockdown have subsided or gone away. My roommate went back home so I have the apartment to myself, but now I’m alone for long stretches of time. There’s a mix of uncertainty and stability that comes from the world stopping. You know we’re living in a world historical moment, but suddenly you have more time to read and think and call people. Every day is a mixed bag. I’m lucky that that’s the most the pandemic has dealt me.
4. Tell us about something you're working on.
I’m working on some experiments and small-scale models for a series of large origami works that depict a kind of zen outlook on the world, about the absolute emptiness that is the foundation of everything. It’s an expression that came from a particular moment in undergrad when I was fixated on a lot of weird and pessimistic philosophy, which was therapeutic at the time. It’s been in the making for a while and finally coming to fruition. The plan was to finish it before summer and move on to different, more joyful expressions, but of course it’s taking longer than I expected. It prepared me for lockdown, in a way. I have some conceptual tools to address the uncertainty of the current times.
5. What is inspiring you/bringing you joy these days?
I spend a lot of time these days looking out the balcony window, sipping coffee. It’s a living picture that I’ve only recently started to pay attention to everyday. I mark time watching the same people going back and forth on the sidewalk, observe the sun and the clouds making their rounds. A crow almost flew into the open door the other day. Right now, I’m really loving the weathered turquoise tiles covering the outside of the neighbor’s loft.
6. Whose work are you drawn to right now?
Every new video by ContraPoints is on constant repeat for me the moment they come out. I’ve been listening to a lot of music by the composer Morton Feldman. The music is instantly mesmerizing and mysterious. It’s a great way to take a break from my own brain.
7. What is something you've learned about yourself through your creative practice in a time of social distancing?
I moved all my stuff from McGuffey to my apartment and found that making art here is very possible, albeit horribly cramped. It’s great for developing a more resilient practice and lousy for my mental state where it’s even easier for me to go days without leaving the house if I don’t force myself to take a walk or go for a bike ride. Lockdown also made me realize how essential it is to be around other artists. In some sense, it feels like everything I make these days isn’t real because it’s never been in conversation with the outside world.
Images courtesy of the artist.
The opinions expressed in this interview are solely those of the artist and do not necessarily represent the policies or positions of NCAI.
See more of David's work on his website.
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