Placed in the right hands, anything that makes a mark on paper can be used to create beautiful works of art. One Boston artist is taking the ballpoint pen to new heights as she explores nature, its transformations, and evolving definitions in intricate detail.
Featured in publications such as ARTnews, New American Paintings, The Boston Globe, and, now, Fine Art Today, Joo Lee Kang is proving that with enough talent, all an artist needs is a ballpoint pen. The Gallery at Penn College is excited to feature Kang’s recent drawings, beginning on August 18. “By drawing mutated animals and plants, I question nature’s place in the modern context,” writes Kang. “What is nature? What is natural? The subjects I portray in my drawings reflect the ambiguity of such definitions.”
Ambiguity describes well her “Bouquet of Nature #2,” which recalls the fantastical and imagined creatures from a Hieronymus Bosch (1450­­–1516) painting. At center one finds a chaotic arrangement of beautifully imagined animals and plants, many of them based on actual things. Toward the front we find a frog with what appear to be eyes on its legs. The trip continues with a lamb that has too many legs to count. Cats, two-headed snakes, and flowers round out the viewer’s journey. “I feel at a loss to describe what is natural in our present day,” Kang continues, “Cross-breeding, genetic engineering — the ways in which humans can control and reconfigure the natural process — become more abundant as technology advances.”

Joo Lee Kang, “Still Life with Shells #4,” ballpoint pen on paper, 19 x 25 in. The Gallery at Penn College

Another, perhaps more down-to-earth, example is “Still Life with Shells #4” — a drawing that truly displays Kang’s mastery of her medium. Employing an intricate arrangement of hatching and cross-hatching, Kang has created an image with astonishing clarity, depth, and naturalism. A frog hangs on a spiraled shell as a dragonfly darts to the left. Our two-headed snake makes an appearance in this work as well, slithering in the background.
“Nature, Fathomable” opens on August 18 and will run through September 20.
To learn more, visit The Gallery at Penn College.
This article was featured in Fine Art Today, a weekly e-newsletter from Fine Art Connoisseur magazine. To start receiving Fine Art Today for free, click here.

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Andrew Webster is the former Editor of Fine Art Today and worked as an editorial and creative marketing assistant for Streamline Publishing. Andrew graduated from The University of North Carolina at Asheville with a B.A. in Art History and Ceramics. He then moved on to the University of Oregon, where he completed an M.A. in Art History. Studying under scholar Kathleen Nicholson, he completed a thesis project that investigated the peculiar practice of embedded self-portraiture within Christian imagery during the 15th and early 16th centuries in Italy.


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