The Salt Lake Arts Council and the Public Art Program celebrate the newest addition to the City’s public art collection, The Crossing, by multidisciplinary artist Jiyoun Lee-Lodge. This piece is the latest in the Salt Lake City Public Art Program’s Art in Transit collection and is the product of a public-private partnership that includes local developers, the Utah Transit Authority (UTA), and the Redevelopment Agency (RDA) of Salt Lake City.
The Crossing was officially unveiled on July 26, 2022 at the new 600 South TRAX station in downtown Salt Lake City, at the intersection of 650 South and Main Street. The five speakers (in order of appearance: Chair of the UTA Board of Trustees Carlton Christensen, Mayor Erin Mendenhall, District 4 Salt Lake City Councilor Ana Valdemoros, Senior Vice President of the Patrinely Group Matthew Behrmann and commissioned artist Jiyoun Lee-lodge), offered remarks on the ever-growing population and transportation needs of Salt Lake City, the importance of mass transit, and the impact of public art in utilitarian spaces like this one.
Utilizing the expert steel craftsmanship of Metal Arts Foundry to implement her vision, Jiyoun presented this larger-than-life stainless-steel sculpture comprised of two six-foot-long waves intersecting at an angle. The Crossing invites people to immerse themselves into the artwork and reflect upon the ever-changing nature of Salt Lake City.
In an interview with the public art program, Jiyoun Lee-Lodge expounded on her process, inspirations, and future projects:
Tell us about yourself and how your background has influenced your work.
I am a Korean-born American woman artist who is interested in identity in flux with the influence of media. Since I was young, I have been portraying people by drawing faces and bodies or symbolizing traits into forms. My interest in human behavior, infographic, art history, and animations influenced my art.
What is your favorite medium to work with?
Pen and iPad for immediacy in everyday life reasons. Paintings when time and space allow me. I love infinite possibilities of image-making. My traditional art training and work on animation, design, and games allowed me to broaden my visual language into something hybrid and flexible.
Every material has a different mentality. For example, I chose the brush pen for the Waterman series to mix the influence of east and west, such as the Korean folk paintings or Marvel comic books; both use bold and thin strokes to portray the lively mass. I illustrate the background with patterns in thin lines with a pen to show the delicate nature of the surroundings. For The Crossing, I used iPad painting for detail in scale. Picking the specific material for an idea is part of my art-making process.
Who or what are your biggest inspirations?
People—their logic and chaos—inspire me. The way people form their beliefs and identity through understanding and misunderstanding communication interests me.
Describe your process for creating installation art? How did you come up with this idea for The Crossing?
I have met many people like me who moved to Utah from other countries, states, and cities at open studios in the Gateway’s Artshop project. I shared their stories of challenges and joy in pursuing happiness with settling. When I observed a lot of construction around the new 600 South Main TRAX Station, I thought of people filling up those units to start life in Salt Lake City. I wanted to show neighborhoods’ dynamic flux with images that symbolize the possibilities and hopes of old and new residents—moving in and out like water. So that’s how I came up with the waves in The Crossing.
Water and waves are a big part of your work. Is there a reason you like to explore this theme?
Water means home, danger, and emotion to me. I grew up in Korea and New York; both places had rivers and oceans around them. I fear water. I learned to swim late and always fear drowning myself and others. Water is sentimental for me as well: I remember the last drop of breastmilk as I received the mammogram after nursing was over and I remember my previous dog’s last teardrop rolling down as she exhales her last breath. These experiences are why I am obsessed with water. I see emotions, adaptation, and metamorphosis in water.
As I moved to a dry state, the foreign element of moving water seemed to represent the transplant like me, something alien and necessary. My project Waterman series started with documentation of living in a new place. I reflect on changing myself to the moving water as a process of accepting myself in it.
Do you have any other art projects you are working on?
I keep thinking about the waterman holding the mobile phone in the bland domestic setting like in the bed, by the window, sitting and being sucked into the phone. It is for me to be aware and reflect on my behavior now. I am also thinking about two characters interacting. One is me, and the other is an amalgamation of family, friends, acquaintances, and invisible matters like the internet or society that influence me to change.
Is there anything you haven’t done yet as an artist that you’d like to do soon?
I hope to make more public art because I love the idea that art is the part of a location that could be a part of anyone’s memory, like an artifact. I also think about making a giant waterman statue that walks forward. I sketched it many times and hoped to stand next to the sculpture of it. Also, I have been talking to few friends about collaboration. For example, I had a lot of fun with Living Marks group when we did improvisational performance and materialization sessions over zoom. There’s something about working with other people wakes something in me. Hope to do it more.
See more of The Crossing on Instagram at @slc_publicartprogram and @jiyounleelodge. Learn more efforts by visiting www.jiyounlee.com, www.saltlakepublicart.org, www.saltlakearts.org, www.slcrda.com, and www.rideuta.com.