Paper artist Cheong-ah Hwang finds home, community in Springfield

Cheong-ah Hwang’s art studio inside Hatch Artist Studios in Downtown Springfield reflects a time-capsule composed of her artistic trials and triumphs throughout the course of her years in America since she immigrated from Korea.

Sketches in her third-floor space showcase community colleges she attended in Washington, California and Texas. Her work truly decorates the entire studio, with paper mâché pieces even hanging from the rafters.

But, most eye-catching are Hwang’s paper sculptures, which she created by cutting and folding different types of paper into intricate shapes that are transformed into realistic, three-dimensional figures.

Hwang says she became fascinated by this medium of artwork while studying art and technology at the Ohio State University. She was so inspired by what she saw in library books, paper arts became a passion of hers – so much so that she choose to switch her area of study so she could concentrate on her creations.

Hwang uses a computer program – just like a graphic designer or engineer would – to motel material object and be able to view them on a computer from any angle. This method helps her especially when sculpting one of her favorite and most delicate things – hummingbirds. 

Back in 2019, Hwang learned about and registered in the first ever ArtSoFo juried art exhibition in Springfield’s South Fountain neighborhood. She learned about the rapidly-growing art community within the city.

“The people are special to me. I was very welcomed and supported,” she says.

Though she had spent 25 years in Columbus, her role there involved more freelance work through phone calls than she preferred, and Hwang decided Springfield was the best next destination for her and her artwork, so she made the move.

“I very rarely sold in person, all online,” says Hwang, adding how much she cherishes in-person interactions. “Sometimes I didn’t even see their faces or hear their voices. For 25 years, I worked like that. I felt isolated. Even when they would comment on my work (it would be) over an email.”

As one of the newest craftswomen to join the community of artisans in Hatch Artist Studio, one of Hwang’s favorite things is seeing the reactions on people’s faces when they see her work.

Though she does also have a shop on Etsy, Hwang says she makes a point to appreciate all the face-to-face exchanges.

“Before I came to ArtSoFo, I did the Columbus Arts Festival. That’s the first time that I (could) actually see people’s reactions,” Hwang says. “They would come to my booth, see my work, and it was a completely different experience from selling online, and I loved that. I love that.”

These personal connections have become a major ingredient of her artwork.
In addition to sharing her work through her studio, Hwang also has done multiple community outreach engagements at the Springfield Museum of Art and has published the book “Creative Paper Cutting: 15 Paper Sculptures to Inspire and Delight.”

In the future, Hwang hopes to offer lessons to help teach the art of paper sculpture to others.
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