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Object of the Week: Suiseki Rock

Gallery Guide Addie Brian takes a closer look at a suiseki rock, an ancient art form that still inspires today.


Every week, OMCA staff—from curators to gallery guides—reflect on an object from the Museum’s extensive collections that shares insights and inspiration for our present moment. 

From Addie Brian, Gallery Guide

My Object of the Week is a suiseki rock, one of several in our collection. If this object looks familiar to you, it’s because a similar rock was featured in the movie Parasite! You might have wondered, “What’s the deal with that rock?” These rocks are actually an example of the Asian art of stone appreciation, known as suseok in Korea, gongshi in China, and suiseki in Japan. Though OMCA’s rocks are contemporary, they date back to the 7th century and were most commonly kept by scholars for meditation. 

I’ve chosen this suiseki called High Sierra by Robert and Blair Gould, collected and hand-carved in California. Suiseki artists like the Goulds find rocks that resemble large natural landscapes and have a sense of harmony and balance. The stones are then mounted in hand-carved stands, called daizas. Parasite director, Bong Joon Ho, collected these stones with his dad when he was younger, which may explain its appearance in the film. I think it’s so incredible that this ancient art form still inspires, whether it’s on display in OMCA’s Gallery of California Art, or playing a major role in a Blockbuster film.

What art forms do you find inspiring? Let us know in the comments.