The artist's "Things I believe" are painted in Korean hangul script across 144 3 x 3-inch blocks of wood: "luck begins with frugality; respect begins with humility; truth begins with balance; enlightenment begins with a smile; anxiety begins with hatred; disaster begins with greed; shame begins with ignorance; sin begins with lack of patience; and everything begins with our eyes and mouths."
Ik-Joong Kang, who lives and works in the Chelsea district of New York City, received his BFA from Hong Ik University, Seoul, and his MFA from Pratt Institute in New York. Kang has exhibited widely, including a one-person exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art at Philip Morris, New York, in 1996. and a two-person exhibition with Nam June Paik at the Whitney Museum of American Art at Champion, Connecticut. He had group exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporay Art. Los Angeles, the Ludwig Museum, Cologne, Germany, and the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Seoul. He was awarded the Special Merit prize in the 47th Venice Biennale in 1997. In 2000, he finished a permanent mural project, which was installed at the San Francisco International Airport. His one-person exhibition will be shown at the Carl Solway Gallery, Cincinnati, in September, 2007.
Kang has received many awards, including a Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Fellowship and a Joan Mitchell Foundation Fellowship. Kang's work is in the collection of the Whitney Museum, the Ludwig Museum, the Leeum Samsung Museum of Art, Seoul, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, California, and the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, Washington, D.C.
In a statement quoted on the World Wide Web, Kang describes how he came to his unique compositions of discrete miniature paintings on canvas, or on individual blocks of wood, mounted as here:
I developed the 3 x 3-inch format during my days as an art student at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn--but outside the classroom, in response to practical necessity. As an impoverished student, I worked a total of twelve hours a day at a Korean grocery store in Manhattan, and as a watchman at a flea market in Far Rockaway, Queens. Looking for ways to effectively utilize time spent on long subway rides, I discovered that 3-inch square canvases fit easily into my pocket and into the palm of my hand. My lengthy commute became transformed into work time in a mobile studio. (See "Dreams and Reality: Korean American Contemporary Art; http://www.koamart2003.com/Artist06.htm)