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Department of Art

Art Student Carolyn Koo Uses Textiles to Explore Themes of Control and Decay

Koo’s Art Breaks Down Fabric Mediums To Facilitate Interaction

Art may be demonstrated in many forms and often inspires creativity. BYU's new art gallery, The Weight-Room, showcases how unique and varied the students' themes and artistic forms can be.

Art by Carolyn Woo as part of her presentation at BYU’s West Campus. Photo by Emma Olson

Art major Carolyn Koo's creations elicit deep reflections about how viewers relate to the ideas of form and shape. Koo used fashion mediums to create a literal canvas and invited audiences to imbue her work with their own meaning.

Koo’s art gallery was featured on March 8-15 in the Weight Room Gallery A located on West Campus. This exhibition was presented as part of her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.

What’s in a name? Koo left her show untitled for a purpose. “I wanted to leave it open to interpretation,” she said. “I don’t want to force [any] meaning onto the view. Take what you want from it.”

Koo’s work creates blank spaces for the mind to wander. Thoughts are made by creating a blank slate in which a relationship is created between the viewer, the viewer’s interpretation and the piece itself.

Art by Carolyn Woo as part of her presentation at BYU’s West Campus. Photo by Emma Olson

Koo prefers to work with “formless things” to urge more engagement and creativity. “I like to play with elements of decay through distressing the appearance of natural wear and tear of fabric materials,” she said.

The art gallery depicts ruined fabric through distressing and staining which captures human interaction and movement in a careless manner. The forms that arise from this technique on the fabric seek to evoke and extract emotion from the viewer. Strainer bars press down on the canvas, causing certain areas to become worn and distressed.

“There is a play with the connotations behind certain fabric mediums that allude to the past and present of the materials we choose to clothe ourselves with,” Koo said. “I hope to create a space for the mind to wander by pulling materials back to a state where they are able to speak for themselves.”

Koo’s actions on fashion fabrics capture human-like movement. When asked about what led her to this unique art style, Koo responded, “I work in fashion and have a high interest in fabric mediums, and I like breaking down certain connotations on a canvas. I feel like it’s inviting the viewer to interact.”

Art by Carolyn Woo as part of her presentation at BYU’s West Campus. Photo by Emma Olson

Koo wants the viewer to abandon everything they know about reality and instead replace it with the feelings and emotions that arise from form and shapes. For example, the colors that make up black dye can blossom on a canvas and allow the viewer to further delve into the components of the color black. Wearing down a piece of denim with stains creates interesting shapes.

Koo wants her audience to understand that her work does not focus on finding a meaning, but instead on emotional connection and engagement. “Create a blank slate and go into it. Be open-minded.”