Artist: Jenny Cho
Media: Wood Paneling, Drawing and Painting, Mixed-Media, Nylon, Watercolor, Electrical Wire
Gallery: CSULB School of Art, Marilyn Werby Gallery
Jenny Cho is an undergraduate student at CSULB and is currently in her last semester in the School of Art’s Drawing and Painting Program; she is planning on obtaining her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. Ms. Cho is a self-proclaimed feminist and actively advocates for feminism and LGBTQ rights through her work. This is often seen through the rainbows that she incorporates in many of her works. Furthermore, Ms. Cho is interested in addressing the dispute between Fine Art and Craft; she wants to change the stigma that Fine Art is created by men and Crafts are created by women by combining the two in her works of art. She also believes that any type of art, either Fine Art of Craft, can be “aesthetically pleasing” and still be considered presentable and professional.
The centerpiece of Ms. Cho’s exhibit was a nontraditional self-portrait called “Neat. Clean. Dainty. Charming.” The piece appeared to be a silver sphere from a distance, but as one approached, it became obvious that the silver sphere had a lingerie-style exterior design and a small door that opens into the inside of the sphere. There was also a rainbow-colored set of steps leading into the sphere. Ms. Cho stated that she got the original idea for the shape of the piece from a snow globe; additionally, she said that she used paper maché to make the exterior. Inside the sphere were many other little items; for example, there was a Barbie doll head, a small handmade book, clippings of her own hair, a piece of moss hanging from the ceiling, and a mirror as the floor of the inside of the sphere. There was also a small-scale set of the shiny, red heels from The Wizard of Oz that were sitting on a small circular pedestal outside of the sphere.
When discussing “Neat. Clean. Dainty. Charming”, Ms. Cho stated that everything about the piece had a meaning. For example, the rainbow-colored steps and the Wizard of Oz heels represented her support of LGBTQ rights. But the overall idea of this piece, as expressed by Ms. Cho, was to show the double standard that women face in society; women are expected to dress, speak, and behave in a particular manner, and if they stray from what is considered the cultural norm, they are forever branded a slut. Ms. Cho used the inside space of the sphere to represent certain cultural norms that are embedded into a young girl’s head as they are growing up; more specifically, the sphere represented her own inner thoughts on societal expectations of women. For example, her placement of a Barbie doll head inside the sphere shows that girls are expected to groom themselves daily and in a certain manner that is accepted by society. She also filled the little handmade book inside the sphere with images of female nipples because she wanted to show that every part of the female breast is shown in the media except the media. Ms. Cho also placed the mirror at the bottom of the sphere as a way for those viewing the piece to see themselves; in a sense, she is attempting to make society more self-aware of its actions and expectations of women. Finally, Ms. Cho stated that the idea to use a lingerie design for the exterior of the sphere was to convey a sense of innocence, but also be seductive and visually appealing, as many women are expected to be. She also thought that the lingerie design provoked the audience to take a closer look inside the sphere, only to see their own reflection from the mirror; this was to make viewers, specifically males, more self-aware of their attraction to the physical appearance of women rather than for their personality or the thoughts running through their mind.
The ideas behind Ms. Cho’s art were well established and were expressed in a very creative and thought-provoking manner. I really liked the lingerie design that Ms. Cho used because not only is she able to draw the audience’s attention, but she is also tempting them to take a closer look, much like lingerie does to most men. But I was definitely left speechless when she explained the concept behind the mirror placement. Not only did I think that it was such clever design, I thought the idea of trying to make the audience more self-aware of their own thoughts and actions towards women after they were drawn in by the lingerie design was amazing. In fact, I began to reflect on the characteristics men generally expect in a woman in society and how we generally neglect to acknowledge the individuality that every woman possesses. Thus, women should not be considered sluts or different simply for the unique way that they choose to express themselves. Additionally, I thought that this piece was a great example of a professional work of art that was also creative and visually appealing. Overall, I thought that Ms. Jenny Cho’s artwork was very creative, expressive, and thought-provoking; I definitely enjoyed visiting this gallery and conversing with Jenny.