A self-taught and professional artist, Emon Surakitkoson lives and works in Washington, DC. She was born in Thailand in 1985 and has developed a unique style of sculptural black and white paintings.
How did you get into art?
I have long been interested in art and creative pursuits, but growing up in Thailand, this was not considered a profession. When I was 19, I immigrated to the USA and began working in the food and service industry. In 2018, during a stint between positions, I began drawing, focusing on line work. From there I began exploring ink work and larger formats. I had success and good feedback, and I realized that this was something that I loved doing and making. Art became a third language for me, giving me a way to communicate beyond using English. With the support of my friends in the industry, i became a full time artist in 2020, launching a studio practice focused on painting.
How would you describe your style? What makes your work special?
I work primarily in black and white abstraction, with an emphasis on the materiality of the media. I enjoy the exploration of balance, and new materials, and making things with my hands, which gives me pride. Working in black and white, I’m particularly interested in composition, technique, and texture, with which I create abstract “characters” that move through their environments. I focus on my own expression and exploration, and making work that is uniquely my own, so that even as my techniques and practices evolve, the results are always recognizable as mine.
How do you go about developing your work?
I go into work every day, so I’m always developing new pieces or processes. When I create, I first listen to what my interests are, at the time, which could be a technique or a tool, a painting or a sculpture. I then create a composition, before adding texture and line work, while always focusing on balance. I judge a piece as complete when it feels harmonious to look at, and creates a tranquil moment of contemplation for the viewer.
Who or what influences you?
I don’t have influences in the sense that I’m trying to mold my work into another style or set of ideals. My artistic interests lay more in the process of creation, rather than any particular kind of finished product. So, I research for techniques and tools, and compositional ideas. I’m also energized by nature, and things I see every day, which I then want to represent in my art and in my own style. Also, I feel the influence of counter forces: that because of attributes like gender, size, and race, some people assume things about my personality and character, and through my work I try to counteract these assumptions. Working large, using tools, and utilizing my body as a motive force, are all elements of my process that I think are integral.
Make us curious. What is planned next?
In the future, I am interested in organizing more community events to help new and emerging artists. I have also had the opportunity to mentor youths and student artists, and I hope to continue to grow my collaborations with organizations that provide such opportunities. Working with galleries outside of the United States is also something I want to do, to experience the broader art world and industry. At the moment, I am still most interested in creating pieces myself, but I can foresee a future in which I also work with collaborators and fabricators to create pieces and installations on a much more expansive scale. I feel like there are many opportunities and directions still available to me, and I am excited to explore where they might lead.
Photographer: Ian Michelman