A peek into our collections, one object at a time

Do Ho Suh’s Sheer Fabric Sculptures

May 3, 2018
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fire extinguisher
Do Ho Suh, Fire Extinguisher, Unit G5, 23 Wenlock Road, Union Wharf, London, N1 7SB UK, 2016. Polyester fabric, stainless steel armature and display case with LED lighting. Collection of Peter H. Kahng ©Do Ho Suh. Courtesy the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong. Photo by Taegsu Jeon (Courtesy of the Smithsonian American Art Museum)

Korean artist Do Ho Suh captures the objects of everyday life as dream-like sculptures. He does this by using sheer, gauzy fabrics that allude to the memories that inspired them. His work consists of large installations of places where he has lived and the objects within them.

This fire extinguisher is made out of a stainless steel frame and sheer polyester fabric. The material and the color are very common in Korean summer wear, a nod to Suh’s heritage and training. Suh trained with Korean seamstresses for many years, learning about traditional dressmaking and perfecting his hand-stitching techniques.

The object is crafted to scale with the help of 3-D imaging programs, while the hand-stitched elements, including the lettering, represent hours of detailed labor.

On view at the Smithsonian American Art Museum through Aug. 5, the exhibition “Do Ho Suh: Almost Home” is the first major exhibition of Suh’s work on the East Coast. The Smithsonian American Art Museum celebrates the extraordinary creativity of artists whose works reflect the American experience and global connections.