Wookjae Maeng creates ceramic sculptures filled with animal characters. Often gathered together in stylized arrangements, Maeng’s works utilize the shapes of these creatures in surreal ways that bare little resemblance to nature. This disorienting effect is intentional: One of Maeng’s goals is to make his viewers consider humans’ impact on the environment and the way we often thoughtlessly manipulate nature to suit our own ends. “In my work I hope to provide an opportunity — however brief — for modern man to consider the realities of the environment in which he exists, even as he continues his daily existence indifferent to it,” he says.

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The theme of my work is to represent the complex, ambiguous, and uncomfortable relationship between man and animal. Nature and animals have been an object of art for a long time. And, they will continue to be so until the fall of man, although the point of view is ever-changing. There are many living creatures on the earth. The human is on the top of the ecological pyramid now and can manage all kinds of fellow creatures. However, the environmental situation continues to worsen, and that tension is what I wish to explore. ~ Wookjae Maeng