New York, October 21, 2008 – South Korean-born sculptor and jewelry designer Hongsock Lee has designed a three-part sculpture for permanent installation on the rooftop terrace at the Vilcek Foundation’s new headquarters, 167 East 73rd Street. Lee traveled from his home in Providence, Rhode Island, on October 6th, to place the pieces. The public unveiling will follow in November, to coincide with an important Foundation program, “American Immigrant Filmmakers on Profile.”
Awarding the commission to Mr. Lee is in keeping with the mission of the Foundation⎯to heighten public awareness of the contributions of immigrants to the sciences, arts, and culture in the United States. Marica Vilcek, Vice President and Co-founder, explained, “Our aim was to select an immigrant artist whose goal in coming to this country was to immerse himself in an environment that fosters an open-ended dialogue that is the wellspring from which meaningful new art can emerge. Here, Hongsock has found the inspiration he needs to continue his radical exploration of shapes⎯simple, three-dimensional geometric forms that avoid figurative references.”
For Mr. Lee, who has been making his living primarily from his jewelry designs, the commission, he said, was “my dream come true.” He credits Rick Kinsel, Executive Director of the Vilcek Foundation, for “finding me.” Said Kinsel, “I recall seeing write-ups about Hongsock’s work in craft magazines, and I admired his talent. We are proud to showcase the work of such a spectacular yet humble artist.”
The three sculptures comprising “Complementary Geometry” are fabricated of 10-gauge mild steel (1/8-inch) using Tig welding, and colored with a powder coating. Lee says he chose to produce three sculptures because “the number three is the most beautiful and important number, indicating our past, present, and future.” He added, “Art has the potential to inspire emotions. I want to create art that speaks to all people.”
To Mrs. Vilcek, the sculptures “exemplify Hongsock’s objective: to design shapes using a minimum of construction, in such a way that they emerge as single entities.” Kinsel says, simply, “In Hongsock’s hands a simple, repeating triangle takes on a more sophisticated form, to evoke a soulful personality.”
Mr. Lee was so moved by the opportunity to create an original work for an organization dedicated to honoring the work and life experiences of immigrants, he made a gift to the Foundation of another sculpture, which he refers to as “my favorite piece.” Titled “To Reach,” it too will be on permanent view in the penthouse of the Vilcek Foundation’s headquarters.
About the Artist
Hongsock Lee was born and raised in Seoul, Korea. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts at Kon-Kuk University, where he studied metallurgy and discovered a talent for goldsmithing and silversmithing, before moving to the United States to pursue a Master of Fine Arts at the Rhode Island School of Design. After graduating with honors in jewelry and metalsmithing, Mr. Lee began designing and producing small sculptures and jewelry. His work is inspired by geometry and nature, often featuring angular shapes and streamlined forms.
Mr. Lee was recently an Artist in Residence at the McColl Center for Visual Art in Charlotte, North Carolina. His work has been showcased in many exhibitions, including SOFA, the Chicago-Evanston Show, the Smithsonian Museum Craft Show, and the Palm Beach International Sculpture Biennale. He has won numerous awards, including the Award of Excellence in Metalwork at the Bellevue (Washington State) Art Fair in 2007 and the Award of Excellence for Display at the American Craft Council Baltimore Show in 2006.
About the Vilcek Foundation
The Vilcek Foundation was established in 2000 by Jan and Marica Vilcek, immigrants from the former Czechoslovakia. The mission of the Foundation, to honor the contributions of foreign-born scholars and artists living in the United States was inspired by the couple’s careers in biomedical science and art history, respectively, as well as their personal experiences and appreciation for the opportunities they received as newcomers to this country.
The Foundation bestows annual prizes to prominent immigrant biomedical scientists and artists who make outstanding contributions to society in the United States. In addition, the Foundation hosts events to promote the work of immigrants in their newly opened headquarters in New York.
For more information about the Vilcek Foundation, please visit www.vilcek.org.