Korean sculptor Yong Ho Ji has mastered a medium most artists wouldn’t even dare think about using….tires. The exquisite level of anatomical detail he can achieve by gluing and screwing all types of tires onto his resin-cast skeletons is, in and of itself, a true feat of engineering. Every muscle and facial expression you see on these animals was created with a surgeon’s-like precision.
The laborious process can take up to three months to complete. First, the artist welds together iron “bones” around which he wraps wood planks and potting soil before applying the tires. He then casts dead animals. He sculpts his initial forms out of wire and clay, builds plaster molds and, finally, makes resin forms.
Ji was originally inspired to adopt tires as his signature material by a childhood memory of the spare tire on his family’s Jeep Wrangler. The vehicle was a rugged machine that stood as a stark contrast to his home’s rural landscape. Having grown up at the base of a large mountain in Korea, where his grandmother raised cattle and other livestock, the artist viewed tires and his deep sense of ecological responsibility as interconnected. To him, they would represent the important link between industrialization and environmental degradation.