This is a piece I worked on during AP Art class in high school, and it also won 5th place at The Beautiful Minds Challenge (Yearly contest held by Marlboro College).

Fifth Place – Junkful by Yeonsoo Koo | Cinco Ranch High School | Katy, TX

This piece was created using a method called Encaustics. I started out with a flat piece of wooden board. First, I added random items, such as pencils, papers, wrapping papers, strings, and the remnants of sharpened pencils (found inside pencil sharpeners). Then, I put Gesso and Mod Podge all over the items. I mixed them well and let yeonsoo_koo-submit-209x300everything dry for a day. 

After the surface was dry, I went over it with hot wax. Using a large flat brush, I applied wax as if I am applying wall paint, trying to make it smooth. Then, I took a dryer specially designed for using on artwork (it is hotter than usual hair dryers), and removed excess wax to make the surface even thinner and smoother.  

I took shellac, usually used to polish wood surfaces, and covered the surface. I took a blowtorch next, and burned the shellac to create the effect that I wanted. The shellac would catch on fire and burn away, and I blew on some of the flames to control how much I wanted to burn the shellac (This was my favorite part! It is stress relieving to watch the shellac melt in). Lastly, I let the shellac dry for a few days so it is not sticky anymore.

When I first saw the prompt, I thought about what can be destructive. The first thing that came to my mind was fire. Only a few things are fire-proof; the flame can gulp down houses, toyeonsoo_koo-close_up_3-300x225wns and even forests in minutes. However, this destructive force, when controlled, is the source of energy and beauty. I used fire to transform and finalize my creation. Before undergoing the step of blow-torching the shellac, everyone, including myself, thought my art work was junk. It looked like trash that was let alone for a few weeks; I could almost smell it decomposing. However, the slight touch of fire changed everything. At the beautiful copper and blue shades that the flame engraved, all of my peers and even my art teacher were amazed. It seems scary to put anything on fire, for it might be completely destroyed, but the risk is worth the transformation. So if something looks bad, just burn it! (But first, cover it with shellac!)


Another thought that created this piece was using trash and useless objects to create the texture. These items have already undergone destruction; now they can be broken, burned and transformed into art work. The objects were things that would have been thrown away—they were about to become real trash. But now, they became part of a junk that I choose to call art. I learned that everything has a use, however worthless it might seem. It is up to the artist to kill or save.


2015 Winners: http://minds.marlboro.edu/2015/01/15/and-the-winners-are/


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