Installation view of flow 流 at Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, 2016. Photo by Paul Hester.

Installation view of flow 流 at Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, 2016. Photo by Paul Hester.

Past Exhibition

flow 流

June 18, 2016 - September 18, 2016
Nina and Michael Zilkha Gallery


For nearly two decades Jae Ko has worked in fiber, transforming ordinary materials like paper and vinyl cords into extraordinary sculptural objects. Her work ranges from discrete wall reliefs and small sculptures to monumental installations that evoke topography and movement. For her debut at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Kowill create a site-specific installation entitled flow    流, the newest iteration in a series she calls “Force of Nature.” Inspired by visits to Newfoundland and the far northwestern reaches of the United States, Ko reconstructs the melting Tundra, with its floating, fractured glaciers. The room-sized sculptural relief is constructed from nearly one ton of recycled paper that has been re-spooled and shaped to fit the architecture of CAMH’s Zilkha Gallery. The very nature of the material appears changed within the space as it in turn alters the gallery’s concrete, stark architecture into undulating surfaces of white formations that suggest imperceptible movements that come from the material’s play with light and shadow.

Born in Korea, Ko studied graphic and commercial design in Japan. She often worked with paper as a designer, but her desire to push the medium to unexpected places was the catalyst for a shift in focusing on her art. Her early works were inspired by the rich traditions of Asia—its calligraphy and traditional women’s hairstyles.  Ko’s love of cultural forms as well as process and materiality merged during her formal studies in Japan. Her series of discrete malleable sculptural works made of paper were systematically dyed with traditional inks and graphite powder to create her own form of sculpture and drawing by playing with the lines of the paper. Manipulations with glue and water further distanced the material from its original intent. Her more recent works, while still seeped in a visual language of tradition and personal and communal histories, are now imbued with the artist’s love of landscape. Working laboriously with painstaking precision, Ko uses coils of commercial adding machine paper that she then unspools, rewinds, molds, and shapes. After moving from Washington, D.C. into the more remote island off of Maryland’s Western Shore, Ko has shifted from creating smaller works to monumental installations inspired by nature.  

An artist who has described herself as “obsessed with paper,” Ko is as exact as she is intuitive when she works with her favorite material, responding to both it and the space in which it will inhabit. Ko will be working onsite at CAMH for ten days ahead of the opening creating her large, site-specific installation. Guests are invited to see the work as it progresses when visiting the museum during this period.


flow 流 is organized by Valerie Cassel Oliver, CAMH Senior Curator.


This exhibition has been made possible by the patrons, benefactors and donors to the Museum’s Friends of Steel Exhibitions: Director’s Circle: Chinhui Juhn and Eddie Allen, Fayez Sarofim, Ms. Louisa Stude Sarofim, Curator’s Circle: Dillon Kyle Architecture, Inc., Mr. and Mrs. I. H. Kempner III, Robin and Andrew Schirrmeister. Major Exhibition Circle: A Fare Extraordinaire, Bergner and Johnson Design, Jereann Chaney, Sara Paschall Dodd, GregFourticq, Barbara and Michael Gamson, Blakely and Trey Griggs, George and Mary Josephine Hamman Foundation, Leslie and Mark Hull, Jackson and Company, Louise D. Jamail, Anne and David Kirkland, KPMG, LLP, Beverly and Howard Robinson, Yellow Cab Houston, Michael Zilkha. Perspectives Exhibition Circle: Bright Star Productions Inc., Elizabeth Howard Crowell, Marita and J.B. Fairbanks, King & Spalding L.L.P., Leigh and Reggie Smith, Mr. Wallace Wilson, and Susan Vaughan Foundation, Inc.

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