Do-Ho Suh worked with staff to develop a new process of knitting nylon monofilament to create Paratrooper II (2005), the second in a series of sculptures based on the theme of the paratrooper. To complete this work, the FWM partnered with the The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. The Morris Gallery, the Pennsylvania Academy's program devoted to contemporary art exhibited Suh's Paratrooper II.
Suspended from the Morris Gallery's high ceiling, Suh's paratrooper took on new proportions when set against the interior of the Frank Furness-designed architecture and historical landmark. In FWM's galleries, Suh presented Paratrooper V (2005), another work in the paratrooper series, and the work Screen (2004), a site-based installation of stacked miniature figurines resembling those in one of Suh's most well-known works, Floor (1997-2000).
Throughout his career, Suh has explored issues of personal and cultural identity, displacement, individuality, and transience. Through repetition of individual forms, as evident in works such as Screen and Floor, the artist makes reference to the complex relationship of the individual to the collective as the seemingly anonymous mass of figures in Screen and Floor literally support the greater whole. The paratrooper series marks a continuation of Suh's interest in the increasingly transient nature of a global culture and in his personal reflections on the experiences of landing in a foreign culture.
Paratrooper II hangs from the gallery ceiling supported by a parachute formed of 200 semi-transparent figures, enveloping visitors in a fabric environment. The life-size human paratrooper, created by knitting colored resin-coated nylon monofilament, is attached to its parachute by strings of monofilament woven directly into the fabric of the paratrooper.
To realize Paratrooper II, FWM Project Coordinator Doina Adam assisted Suh in developing a new process of knitting monofilament that enabled the material to be stretched in various directions and molded to the specifications of the paratrooper. The polyester organza blouses composing the parachute were sewed by Abby Lutz, project construction technician, and Nami Yamamoto, printer/studio assistant.