Monday, June 2, 2014

Aoife Casey -- On A Visual Journey

Aoife Casey is a visual artist whose creative works of art draws me into a space that is positive and vibrant.

Self Portrait 1
© Aoife Casey

Originally from Dublin, Aoife has been living in Seoul since March 2013.  Her love for the arts is due to the influence of her parents at an early age.  Her room was decorated with beautiful hand painted fairy tale scenes composed by her mother.  It was her mother who encouraged Aoife to draw as often as possible.  Her father always had his camera with him.  Being surrounded by such creativity and such respect for the arts, it would have been surprising if Aoife didn't pursue her own artistic journey.

Having graduated from Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology (IADT), and from National College of Art and Design (NCAD), Aoife has a solid background in the arts.  How she illustrates part of her journey is best described using her own words:

"I've tried out so many different types of avenues, visually, and have studied sculpture, painting, photography, textile and fashion design, permaculture, installations and sound.  Much like tone of voice, my medium changed a lot over the years."

After moving to South Korea, Aoife's primary tool to create her visual work is the camera.  As yet, she doesn't have a studio in Seoul, so the camera is very convenient for her.  Not surprisingly, she makes many of her own costumes and props for her compositions even though the physical space required for such productions is limited.

 Jessica for Eternal Romantic
© Aoife Casey

Aoife's greatest inspiration comes from the people she meets.  She feels inspired to capture the dynamics and the stories of the people she meets.  She wants to capture their energy, vibrancy, beauty, and vulnerabilities.  In my opinion, it is apparent that she and her subjects connect so very well, and that she is able to show the absolute humanness of her subjects so very well.  How does she do that?

"I'm a total romantic, too, and I feel that comes across in my work.  Growing up, my walls were covered in Pre-Raphaelite posters and poems.  Personally, I feel living is such a crazy ride in terms of emotions, thoughts, and feelings; some good, some bad, some hard to understand, that I have a need to explore, negotiate, and assess these issues through art."

She understands her subjects, and they understand her.  That connection creates an electric and emotional bond.

She also draws inspiration from the natural environment in her work.  She incorporates the natural environment into her work by using props made from nature and natural things, or by laying an image to add depth and texture to the composition.

 Spring Lay Down 1
© Aoife Casey

Jayun and Jui for Hope
© Aoife Casey

On a personal note, I became aware of Aoife and her work after she began publicizing and then publishing some photographs from The Natural Beauty Project.  As is true with many people who come to Korea, Aoife sought to understand why so many Korean women have cosmetic surgery.  The Natural Beauty Project, as she describes it, was an investigation to learn and to understand why Korean women would want to change their appearance.  Fifty women participated in the project, and she came to realize from them the cultural pressures and expectations that so many face.  

Freya Han for The Natural Beauty Project Seoul
© Aoife Casey

Currently, Aoife is a monthly contributor to CultureM Magazine, which is an international online cultural magazine published in South Korea.  The magazine discusses many different things about Korean culture, music, fashion, visual arts, and cultural events.  To read and view her contributions to CultureM Magaine, please click on this link.

She is also involved in a collaborative project with fellow artist and friend, Jennifer Murphy, who happens to be in Ireland.  It is literally an international collaborative effort.  The Affinity is the title of the project.  Each month a theme is chosen, and the two artists submit one or two photographs in response to the theme.  The project can be seen on a Facebook page:  The Affinity.  For those who don't Facebook, one response to the Essence theme is shown below.

Essence for The Affinity
© Aoife Casey

In response to my question about her goals, Aoife replied that her goal is to be expressive and happy.  Overall, her aim is to tell a visual story through a single image, or through a group of images. 

She is looking for ways to challenge her work.  With her photographic work, she is working with more than one subject at a time, plus she is working towards portraying male subjects.  The challenge is exciting and completely different for her. 

It is also her desire to complete an artist residency sometime in the future.

To view more of Aoife's artwork, visit her website here.  (Please note that the website is undergoing some major maintenance work at this time, so try again later if the site is not accessible at this moment.)

Her work can also be seen at her photography blog here.

The art of Aoife Casey does fill me with happiness.  Her work is timeless, really.  By way of conclusion, her thoughts about her visual journey:

"I really feel sharing my work with a broad audience, and for them to enjoy it is how it comes alive.  I hope to look back on my work in ten years and be proud of the visual journey I have taken."

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