KIA Opens Jiha Moon

Posted: December 1, 2015

Jiha Moon Blue mask

Eastern and Western Cultures Collide in Jiha Moon Exhibition

KALAMAZOO, MI -- The Kalamazoo Institute of Arts will open a new exhibition on December 19: Jiha Moon: Double Welcome, Most Everyone's Mad Here.

Born in Korea, Jiha Moon is known for harvesting elements from cultures around the world to explore the nature of global identity. With her use of pop culture, technology, racial assumptions and folklore, Moon blurs the lines between Western and Eastern iconography with smart-phone emojis, social media logos, characters from online games -- all floating alongside Asian tigers, dragons, and gods -- to unite the familiar and the foreign.

Moon's interest in how Westerners perceive other cultures and how foreigners perceive the West, led her to wonder, "Why do people love foreign stuff so much? When we travel to other countries, explore different cultures, and meet with new people, we tend to fall in love with things that are not our own. People have a soft spot for foreign things. The world is so interconnected nowadays, how can you even tell where someone or something comes from anymore?"

At the heart of the exhibition, Moon presents an installation featuring perceived kitschy elements of Asian home decor: low wooden tables and silk embroidered pillows placed on Japanese tatami mats. Displayed on the various surfaces are her unconventional ceramic works reflecting her interest in the "beautiful awkward" in which she makes reference to a tourist's desire to collect foreign and exotic elements to beautify their houses back home.

She honors traditional Asian arts through her use of Hanji paper, Korean silk, and calligraphic brushstrokes, but plays with iconography and symbols that have been classified as "foreign" -- like blue willow china patterns, Korean fans, floating dragons, and fortune cookies, which originated in California but are identified as Chinese.

More than 50 works on paper and ceramics combine materials and metaphors, bringing cultures together to clash, crash, muddle, and meld.

The exhibition is organized by the Taubman Museum of Art, Roanoke, Virginia, in collaboration with the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art, College of Charleston School of the Arts in Charleston, South Carolina. The exhibition is curated by Amy G. Moorefield, Deputy Director of Exhibitions and Collections at the Taubman Museum of Art and Mark Sloan, Director and Chief Curator of the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art.

Ms. Moon will provide an illustrated introduction to her work for an ARTbreak talk at the KIA on Tuesday, December 15, at noon. Admission is free.

Born and raised in Daegu, Korea, Jiha Moon lives and works in Atlanta, Georgia. She received her Master of Fine Arts from the University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa, and her Bachelor of Fine Arts from Korea University in Seoul, Korea. Her work is in the permanent collections of the Asia Society, New York, New York; the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, Georgia; the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, Virginia; and the Hunter Museum of Art in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Her work has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions at notable museums nationwide including at the Mint Museum of Art in Charlotte, North Carolina; the Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art in Nashville, Tennessee; and the Weatherspoon Museum of Art, Greensboro, North Carolina.

She has been the recipient of several residencies including Omi International Arts Center, Ghent, New York; the Headlands Center for the Arts, Sausalito, California; the Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and the MacDowell Colony, Peterborough, New Hampshire. In 2011, Moon was the recipient of a prestigious Joan Mitchell Foundation Painter and Sculpture grant. She is represented by Curator s Office in Washington, D.C., Saltworks Gallery in Atlanta, Georgia, and Ryan Lee Gallery in New York, New York.