Blind Balloon Artist Opens US Exhibit

A blind balloon artist from South Korea has opened a balloon-based art exhibition in the US. The installation is being housed at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore (Maryland) and will be on display throughout December.

Hongseok Goh has been working with balloons since he first started to lose his sight in his 20s. Now 45, Hongseok says that balloons are a perfect medium for his art as they allow him to turn air into something everyone can see.

“To me, air is like a building material,” he says.

Hongseok’s first-ever installation in the US features an elephant and a turtle and is more than 20 feet long. The work was created with a team of six South Korean balloon artists and two from America.

The sculpture took the team six days to create, before it opened to the public on Friday 24 November.

During the construction, Goh slept just two to three hours a night. “I see this as a responsibility and a mission I’ve been tasked with. That’s really what’s driving me. In my mind, I can always sleep later,” he said.

Hongseok’s trip is funded by a grant from the South Korean government, allowing him to represent artists with disabilities and promote balloons as an art form.

“My hope is that this will be the start of a balloon art revolution,” he said, through a translator. “Eventually there will be more exhibits with balloon art. It will get the respect and prestige it deserves.”

“He creates visual works of wonder, through his own imagination and his inner eye, for the rest of us to see,” said Rebecca Hoffberger, the director of the museum. “It’s wonderful, when there’s this art that we’re all familiar with from our children’s birthday parties, that takes it to such a scale that it boggles the mind.”

The sculpture will be on display at the museum for at least 30 days, so the team used Hi-Float and double-stuffed every single balloon to extend the sculpture’s life.

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