Jae Hyung Lee


When faced with trauma we often do not recognize the importance of taking time to heal. The purpose of my work is to heal myself from my past. The process of making pieces can ease agony and create hope in my mind. My design concept will be developed through the creation of my work, and I hope to begin healing from the trauma of my father's death. I have reflected on the post-traumatic feelings that are associated with my father's death eight years ago. I realize that I still feel anger, sadness and grief. To confront this reality and work to begin healing myself. I thought about how I could overcome the trauma positively. I decided to do so through the creation of this body of work. The beginning of this process of healing takes form with the making of four distinct pieces: a stool, a bench, a coat rack and sculptures specifically for him. Before my father's death, I had promised I would create furniture for him. Unfortunately I was never able to fulfill this promise, and the guilt has remained with me to this day. Although it is too late to fulfill my promise, I realized that this body of work is the best way for me to honor my father for his dedication, and will in turn help me overcome the unresolved feelings that I still have surrounding his death. Each of the four pieces relates to the memory of my father, and has a specific connotation, implying self- reflection, self- complacency and/or recollection. It is important to maintain a balance between utilitarian concerns and sculptural form to communicate with him. The utility is a way to keep the promise with my father. Adopting sculptural forms allows me to explore and create a strong metaphor, which exposes the hidden meaning of my relationship with my father. This interaction of utility and sculptural metaphor makes the work more powerful through the balance of these two contributions. 1 The objects I create act as a medium to connect with my father. They may also possess another meaning beyond function. In my case, the role of symbolic function is very important, and determines how I see the form. As a result, this perspective continues to inform and develop my design sensibility for objects. I am convinced that everyone has the ability to overcome trauma, and must be guided by his or her own unique way. I intend to apply this process in an effort to heal myself. I want to use my design approach (for the absent person) to better understand my relationship with my father. The ambiguity in my work represents the irony of making a functional object for the absent. My process is to find the intersection between the two elements: my absent father, and the functionality of furniture. The goals for my design process goes beyond physical/functional concerns and seek to open furniture to more than a utilitarian experience. I hope to reconcile this unconscious relationship through the metaphorical function of furniture.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Furniture design--Themes, motives; Furniture design--Technique; Art therapy; Grief in art

Publication Date


Document Type


Department, Program, or Center

School for American Crafts (CIAS)


Tannen, Richard

Advisor/Committee Member

Buck, Andy

Advisor/Committee Member

Shellenbarger, Jane


Note: imported from RIT’s Digital Media Library running on DSpace to RIT Scholar Works. Physical copy available through RIT's The Wallace Library at: NK2399.2 .L44 2013


RIT – Main Campus

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