Best Sculptor St. Louis 2001 - Soo Sunny Park
Sculpture is such a tricky little medium because it is such a dilemma for the artist to transcend the object: How do you transform this shape that you made into more than a three-dimensional object that -- if turned over on its side -- would make a nice coffee table? Women sculptors must also get beyond the machismo of sculpture: the stained sweatshirts and jeans, the robust manipulation of metal, the hunk of testosterone on the studio floor that receives high praise from the professor/guy corps. Yuck. Soo Sunny Park is one who's getting along just fine without the hunk aesthetic, thank you. In the winter, she took over the Projects Room at the Forum for Contemporary Art with "Transmission," a big plastic tube extended through the three floors that swirled letters and envelopes up and down when viewers passed by a sensor (at least that's how we remember it). This spring, her "To Give Air to One's Theory" breathed in and out at the Park Avenue Gallery. Bubbles of vinyl -- kind of like surreal packing material -- inflated and deflated like a clear lung. Park also managed to create -- believe it or not -- one of the few artful People Project figures, a piece called "Same ... Different ... All One Life" with cartoonish flames, a purple vessel with limbs, fungi and transistorlike dealy-dads hanging from it. Anyone who can take such a dumb idea as the People Project and make it interesting -- and much more than a coffee table -- deserves all sorts of praise.