Ruminating on JSC’s Meditators


Gunter Kleist

Mediators on the hill

We’ve all seen them, the two cast-iron figures standing watch over McClelland hill. They are the work of Won Lee, a Korean-born Canadian artist who graduated with an MFA in studio arts from JSC in 2006. A year later, Lee donated the piece to the college, according to Julian Scott Gallery director Leila Bandar.

“The Meditators” started out as an 18 inch- high clay model, and was part of Lee’s thesis show. When making the clay model, Bandar says Lee had a model that was supposed to come to his studio and sit for him. She was running late, so Lee called in another model.

Both models ended up showing up, and it was a moment of anxiety and chaos, as nothing seemed to be going right. Both models were on edge; one felt badly for being late and the other was annoyed for now being there for no reason.

Lee suggested they just meditate and the two models sat down in a natural pose, with their legs and arms crossed.

Lee found a moment of perfection within the chaos, and he started molding the two models out of clay instead of the one initially envisioned.

Bandar also says the models’ feet are “high arched… gestures are comfortable and intentional” and the piece “really celebrates imperfection.”

She told Lee that if he were looking to recreate the clay model in a larger scale, Johnson would be interested in having it on campus. Taking her advice, he took it back to China where they cast and scaled six replica bronze pieces that stood 6 feet high.
Bandar was in charge of picking a place for the scaled model to sit. It is currently placed at the top of McClelland hill, overlooking the mountains, the elementary school, and the Vermont Studio Center.

Bandar says having it there “seemed like a way to connect to our environment to our community.”

If you’re interested in seeing more of Lee’s work visit