Light at the end of the tunnel

by Rob Gilhooly

For Cho Kyong Hee, artists displaying work in public spaces have a special responsibility: Installations should not impose.

For those people who may pass by an installation daily on their way to and from work, for example, the work should be nothing more than a comfortable distraction, “something to lighten their load.”

“Glass as an art material, in itself, is not imposing. Like air, we are not particularly conscious of its existence,” said the Japan-born Korean. “But, due to the presence of glass, light is given so many expressions. My glass works are merely vehicles to give birth to those expressions, which I want passersby to notice, if only fleetingly.”

Cho’s work at the entranceway to Kuramae Station is suitably titled “Hikari no Katachi (The Shape of Light).” It features five scenes depicting rain, fireworks, a cityscape, illumination and rivers.

“The expression of light transmitted through glass is different depending on the shape of the glass or the way the light falls, reflects or refracts. It is also influenced according to the color, shape, size and angle of the glass itself. I wanted to show as many of those permutations as possible.”

Cho believes that while the situation is improving, Japan still does not have enough public art projects. In particular, she would like to see more done at hospitals, where she also has some of her works displayed, and, with Japan’s aging society in mind, at care facilities.

“In some countries overseas, the concept of ‘healing art’ is now accepted. In hospitals, for example, art can provide a mental lift.”