KO INTERPRETS HER WORLD in three dimensional shapes: The slope and width of a child’s nose, the roundness and depth of a man’s eyes, the length, texture and curl of a woman’s head of hair, the angles and curves of the human body. She shares the human form through sculptures that capture the soul. “When I create the human form, it’s the human form as I see it,” says Ko. “For instance, I love to create really round, full rear ends. It’s my own interpretation of the human body.” Another unique characteristic of Ko’s work is pieces with tiny hands and feet. “That’s inspired by my heritage,” says Ko, whose mother was French, Irish, and American Indian, and her father Chinese.
“Sculpture is my way of expressing myself, and I find it so rewarding,” says Ko. It’s an art form she’s been drawn to since childhood, honing her creative skills through years of exploration, world travel and practice – and a lifetime of experimentation using everything from cardboard to clay.
Unlike some, Ko didn’t study fine art in college. She didn't venture abroad as student to explore the works of Michelangelo or Vincent Van Gogh. That simply wasn’t an option for Ko – a self-made, successful businesswoman who left home at 15 to explore and create her world.
Ko became a successful businesswoman and an artist simultaneously. She spent the last three decades building an empire of image and wealth, turning a small, independent regional magazine into an iconic statement of the Orange County, California lifestyle. She went to work at Orange Coast magazine in 1976, and purchased the magazine in 1995. She grew it into a successful business, and ultimately sold it at the top of the market.
Her creativity is boundless. Artistically, 1996 was a pivotal year for Ko. As she traveled through Bali and Singapore, Ko was captivated by the architecture and artistry that she saw. It compelled her to explore her own talent as an artist through more travel and training with the masters.
Ko is already experiencing phenomenal success as an artist. She’s currently working on a series of sculptures, which is already attracting buzz in the art world. All of her work carries Asian influences – some subtle, some obvious. For Ko, they evoke a sense of calm, well being and peacefulness. When Ko is seeking inspiration, she often gazes outside her studio onto a serene Japanese garden. The emotions evoked by this contemplation – particularly serenity – are the things that motivate Ko in her work.
“I like things that make me smile within,” she says. “And that’s an important goal for me in creating my artwork. I want people to look at it and smile, and to feel what I have felt.”
Ko’s fascination with shapes dates back to her early childhood, to the days of playing with Play-Doh™. She remembers sculpting shapes and figures out of the brightly colored clay and setting them aside as works of art. As a Girl Scout, she remembers collecting empty cookie boxes and turning them into cardboard sculptures. She can achieve dimension in any medium.
Ko also has used interior design as a creative outlet. Her Carlsbad home is an eclectic contemporary reflection of Ko’s eye for artwork, affinity for exotic cultures, and her sense of space, shapes and color. All aspects of her life reveal her innate creativity.
“I normally wake up thinking about a shape, or some element of a sculpture, and I can't wait to get up and get started,” she says. “It gives me a real focus and balance in life. I feel that I am able to give life to clay through creations that have a secret soul that I wish to share.”