On the Spot: Jae Ko

Korea-born, Washington-based artist Jae Ko is having her seventh solo exhibition at Marsha Mateyka Gallery, near Dupont Circle. Ko works with ink and paper but makes sculpture rather than drawings: She twists rolls of adding-machine tape into coiling forms, held in place by glue and ink.

After years of using only black ink, why did you add red for this show?
Black goes back to calligraphic writing, part of my Asian background. But I was starting to miss using color. Red is difficult to use; I had to find the right kind of red. In East Asia, red is the color of happiness.

Why do you add graphite to the ink?
Glue mixed with pigment often dries to a shiny, rubbery color. Graphite reduces this quality. I rub the graphite powder lightly on the work to enhance the details and bring out the layers of the paper.

Do you think you’ll ever exhaust this technique?
I once took a roll of paper to the ocean, buried it in the sand and recovered it several hours later to discover how the paper changed. I don’t feel I will ever get exhausted because there are so many other ways I still have to experiment.

What interests you about these forms?
The shape right at the point the work’s almost collapsing — another push or pull might ruin the work. I am inspired by pushing the limits of shaping paper into these forms.

Marsha Mateyka Gallery, 2012 R St. NW; through April 14, Wed.-Fri., 11 a.m.-6 p.m., Sat., 11 a.m.-5 p.m., free; 202-328-0088.

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