Sungsook Setton is a Korean-American artist and calligrapher. Besides her training in brush painting and calligraphy under Chinese and Korean masters, she has also studied Western art in Germany, the UK and the United States, obtaining her BA in Studio Art at Stony Brook University and MFA in interdisciplinary art at Goddard College. Setton’s work has been widely exhibited in Canada, the UK, China, Taiwan, Korea and the United States. She has received more than two dozen awards for her work, including three times of Best of Show at the National Juried Exhibition by the Sumi-e Society of America. In 2010, she represented the U.S. at the Third International Biennial of Modern Ink Painting in Taipei. She serves on the faculty of the China Institute in Manhattan and the Art League of Long Island.

Kneeling, legs shifted
to one side - she
bows closer to her world.

Painter submerged in ceremony. 
Deaf to the song of her wrist
guiding bamboo brush over

white rice paper.Tailoring Western cities
with strict Korean strokes

she wrings life from them
until they weep, then
steals them with her brush.

  - Jennifer Faulkner

Artist statement

My work has been deeply influenced by artistic traditions of East and West, drawing from art training in Europe, the US, and my native South Korea. In my painting, which can be seen as a form of organic expressive abstraction, I seek to provide a meditative space for people to breathe and grow. I see my ongoing transition from representation to minimalism as a perpetual process to capture the essence of things. In the language of taoist philosophy this represents a transition from existence (yu) to non-existence (mu). In this way, the empty space on the page is as important as the strokes themselves. Working with some of the most unforgiving materials--the subtle Asian brush and thinnest of rice papers, is a double-edged sword. It offers no hiding place, and yet allows me to express my inner spirit (qi). 

I have used traditional materials, including sumi-e ink, watercolor, and dyes on silk, and experimented with narrative formats that incorporate images and words, including scrolls, fans, and accordion books. I’ve also collaborated with musicians in multi-sensory performance pieces, painting as they perform.