Encountering the work of Sally Ko can be compared to one’s experience while looking through the lens of a microscope. Initially, the viewer wonders about what will be found on the other side of the microscope beyond naked eyes.
Once there, a new micro world reveals itself. Looking through the magnifying glass of Sally Ko’s art, skin, surface, protection, and enclosure are a few words that come to mind as one stands within a few feet away from her work. Ko’s paintings depict an elaborate surface made of circular fragments carefully placed within close proximity of each other while no overlapping is evident. These interconnected, single layered fragments create a magnified pattern on the surface of every work. They take on transparent and sometimes iridescent qualities forming a single thick layer of material that extends from side to side of the canvas in total fluidity. What lies behind this armor of thick gels, mediums and pigments is the raw texture of a single colored canvas.
In her studio, Ko works in a long and arduous process of pouring and maneuvering the medium as it flows across the surface. Similar to a seasoned scientist, Ko anticipates the gravitational forces that pull the liquid material and adjusts her movements making spontaneous corrections. Although the process appears to be purely impulsive, there is a carefully orchestrated preparation for each piece. From color selections to canvas motions and techniques unique to the artist, Ko embraces the medium with respect and determination. It is in this repetitive process that the artist enters into a ceremonial and transformative act.
The cell-like shapes in Ko’s painting surfaces bond together as if to become a protective skin. As an inner-healing process, the resulting works reflect on the transformative power of our very own organism to adapt, protect and encapsulate itself from the dangers of the outside world. Similarly, the protective skin serves as a psychological reminder of our own human experiences. Along the journey of life, we thicken our skins to protect ourselves from the dangers and hurts of life. One experience at a time poured unto us in unexpected ways shapes our character and brings about resilience as we face the hard seasons of life. In Ko’s three-dimensional hanging vessels the metaphor of protection becomes more evident. The vessel shaped canvas covered with the circular fragments create a cocoon of protection similar to that of a caterpillar. The vessels protect and hide as much as they reveal in their outer surface. A sense of protection and communal care appears to be embodied in the installation of these works.
Sally Ko’s art explores the balance of life found in the intimate process of our own individual and collective journey. It is in this palpable micro-cosmos that one finds a web of interconnected forms revealing our very own humanity both at the biological and the psychological