Sung-Min Lee


An artist's work can be an expression of what they are exposed to in their own personal histories, memories and experiences. In this thesis completed for the Masters of Fine Arts degree in Fine Arts Studio at Rochester Institute of Technology, I, as a Korean artist, examine how life and death coexist as one, according to the teachings of Buddha. I believe that this is not just a religious perspective but also a universal point of view. The cycle of life and death is like two sides of a coin; they are not separate. This different view of life and death, as understood through Buddhism, has a direct influence on my art practice. The installation artwork done for this thesis attempts to transform the idea of life and death from the Korean Buddhist perspective to a general point of view for everyone. Both two and three-dimensional artworks refer to the human body and human experience. The final, room-sized installation for the thesis is based on photographs of people's bellybuttons that are made into three-dimensional forms, clumped together and spread throughout the space. Bellybuttons represent the very real connection between the life and death of an individual. I hope that this thesis and my artwork, in general, will also encourage all of us to embark on new journeys into the inner and outer world we ordinarily do not notice.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Installations (Art)--Themes, motives; Installations (Art)--Technique; Navel--Pictorial works; Life in art; Death in art; Buddhism in art

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Fine Arts Studio (MFA)

Department, Program, or Center

School of Art (CIAS)


Tom Lightfoot

Advisor/Committee Member

Luvon Sheppard

Advisor/Committee Member

Keith Howard


Physical copy available from RIT's Wallace Library at N6494.I56 L44 2012


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