The dreamlike architectural sculptures of Do Ho Suh re-create places he has lived, and in doing so explores the idea of home. Born in Korea, his work is about migration, displacement and the influence of environment on identity. Simple but profound, his work is provocative and moving as the viewer is led through his process to understand the concept of home.

Home Within Home, MMCA, Seoul, Korea, 2013

“A home is not only an architectural structure, but harbors immaterial memories. That’s why I chose thin, translucent fabrics.” As sheer layers interact, I am struck with the feeling that environment has a profound influence of how we see ourselves.

Do Ho Suh, New York City Apartment Corridor Bristol, 2015. Bristol Museum & Art Gallery

The level of detail shows the care–even love–that he treats his subjects

The series evolved from Suh’s own story of leaving Korea to go to Providence, RI to attend The Rhode Island School of Design. He described in an interview how in Korea there is an expression “walk the house”–describing when you dismantle your house and take it with you to re-assemble it. Struggling with missing his home, even more specifically his traditional Korean home that his father built.

An example of Hanok style architecture

Being in a different country he knew he couldn’t “walk the house” and began thinking about how to fit his home in a suitcase. He said he had a vision of his home floating above him. He went to skilled craftsman and learned to sew. Having worked in many other mediums, this series gained a lot of attention.

A sketch that inspired his floating home project

Do Ho Suh,”Seoul Home”, 2012, Silk, metal structure

The installation as seen from below

In his current show “Almost Home” in one room he leads you through sections of houses; while in another room he puts details from his houses and presents them in transparent boxes like you would see in a museum or gallery.

Installation shots for the current Smithsonian show

His stove from his New York apartment

Hardware taken out of context tells a different story

I think the quest for what makes home feel like home is a shared human experience. I am struck when looking at his work by how much time we spend with the places we inhabit and how the spaces and objects become part of the fabric of our identity. It is a good angle for an argument–one that is made in our office–that what you surround yourself with matters. I think of all the places I have lived, and realize just how many of my memories are wrapped in places.

‘…I’m interested in digging history, or untold stories, from behind the walls. Using the space as a means to understand the path of my life and the time I’ve spent there. Most of us are just passing through these buildings, and I’m very aware of all the others who have lived there before.’–Do Ho Suh

Currently, his show “Almost Home” is at the Smithsonian American Art Museum until August 5th.