Ziesook You’s work binds human and botanical forms. The artist’s compositions have an endearing fragility to them, using delicate flowers and slim feminine bodies. Floral arrangements are balanced on the heads of her models, creating ethereal, beautiful characters. We spoke to Ziesook about her practice, influences, and future projects.
How would you describe what you create?
I love taking pictures, listening to music, and traveling. I have traveled to about thirty countries. On those journeys, I photographed, wrote, and made documentary videos about my experiences, all of which became a source of inspiration for my later work. Now I create unique floral portraits by experimenting with various media and combining fresh and dry flowers. I create an image with characteristics that lie somewhere between photography and painting.
What are the fundamental messages you want to get across with your work?
I believe flowers can bring a piece of happiness to people's lives. Even if the flowers are ephemeral, the flowers are still blooming in my artwork. My portraits are of a variety of different, ordinary people. It is my desire for each person to see themselves as beautiful as the floral image of which they have become a part.
What have been the key influences in your work?
I was moved by what I learned about a small village located at the end of the Silk Road in Nepal named Broq-pa. In the Nepalese culture, flowers symbolize love, happiness, and appreciation to God. Broq-pa’s women are committed to growing flowers in their garden and decorate their hair with flowers every day. My desire to share the spirit of Broq-pa with people through my artwork was the inspiration for my series, Scent of Broq-pa.
Do your figures hiding their faces represent anything significant?
I want the viewer's gaze to go to the flowers, not to the face of the model. I want the human form to disappear and become a human vase. It is like the flowers and people have become one inseparable image.
Do flowers have a particular symbolism for you?
In my artwork, flowers symbolize color, happiness, and co-existence between nature and human beings. Flowers are an ode to the ephemeral beauty of nature.
When did you realize you wanted to become an artist?
Since childhood, I have always dreamed of becoming an artist. The world is full of beauty and creating something new is fascinating. My mother significantly impacted my life’s work. She taught me to be a good observer and encouraged me to pursue the field of art. My mother had also dreamed of becoming an artist, but poverty captured her dream. Fortunately, because of my mother’s dedication and life’s circumstances I have the opportunity to fulfill our shared passion.
What's the latest project you are working on?
Since 2016, I have been working of Scent of Broq-pa. I am continuing the series by exploring floral portraits of seniors, single mothers, people from multicultural backgrounds, and different age groups.
Name a formative experience you've had in the art world and what it taught you.
"Life is a long journey." I have traveled to a lot of countries. During my travels I especially enjoy exploring small villages and meeting the native people. I love to learn about the way of life in these different places. What I have discovered is that although we have different cultures and languages, we can still be connected by the power of art. Through my art work I hope to make the world a brighter place.