Wednesday, May 17, 2017

New feature from D.C. exhibit

The feature about me for Voice of America was published today. Read here or watch above!

I'm only days away now from flying to NYC to start a month-long project to help get a paper studio off the ground. More on that once I finish up all the last-minute prep.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Library treasures

On my one day off in D.C. from exhibit prep and promo, I got to visit the Library of Congress to view some Korean maps that I knew about from a paper written by LOC's Claire Dekle, their senior rare book conservator.
This first one was rebound (you can see holes from prior bindings to the left) into an almost drum leaf type binding. Each spread is a different map.
I love how evident the hand is on each page, and how the water is just painted in without any concern of making it look smooth or even.
This set of maps bound into a book has much bigger spreads that fold out, but they aren't all the same size.
I love the way that the islands are drawn. The water here is not as strong a blue but the style is similar, hasty filling in of water.
This is not as old as the other two and was under plastic so hard to shoot, but showed an are that is currently in North Korea, with Japanese and Chinese settlements marked in English, and north not being at the top of the map. I asked if these were power lines and she said likely telegraph lines.
This was the real stunner, the one I really wanted to see after reading the paper (and seeing Claire's presentation of it in Seoul three years ago). A map on a fan! Gorgeous, and a huge feat of conservation work. My colleague Minah worked on this Korean map project back when she lived in Philly and it is really remarkable to see (or not be able to see) the hours of work that went into all of these objects).
Claire also pulled for me a Chinese map showing parts of Korea, huge, woodblock printed, and beautiful. There she is with the proceedings from the seminar we were part of in Korea. We were in the maps division, which explains the globes (there are many more). Such a delight!

Monday, May 08, 2017

One full circle

The show came together beautifully, even with last minute art deliveries and paint jobs. I was so proud of how it all ended up, and was so happy to share the experience in person with Sammy and Steph.
You can see Adam's, Steph's, and my work in this gallery, at the right side when coming up the stairs to the second floor.
I love these pieces by a Korean artist, bronze pillows, on the way up the stairs.
These are three of Bandana Pottery's pieces, by Michael Hunt and Naomi Dalglish. I wish we could have used all of their work but there were some space limitations. If I had known earlier that three smaller pieces would have been pulled, I would have asked for prices and likely have gone home with something!
Adam's pots arrived just in the nick of time and we all breathed easy afterwards. I wished that the ceramic artists could have joined us but they are all very busy and in demand potters.
I did manage a lot of walking around during my one free day between install and opening, when I visited old Korean maps at the Library of Congress and the Paper Sample Collection at the National Gallery of Art. Such a full day with people who really get the process of making, and the intricacies of paper!
Finally, my generous and kind host Kelsey, who hosted me for the entire stay and brought a copy of my book to be able to show the reporter who was covering the entire event. We met in Korea almost a decade ago now and she has been steady in her support. I was delighted to be able to meet her husband and dog on this visit, who all took excellent care of me.

This was a big labor of love, to create a space for Americans who pull inspiration from Korean traditions, techniques, and materials. I was so glad to share this show with former students who are now good friends and colleagues. More pictures here!

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Perfect weather for a smooth install

I really had no idea how beautiful D.C. can be. After my brief NYC visit, I was amazed to drive into the city along water, and drive through a beautiful national park right inside of the city to get to my hosts after delivering a carload of art.
Today I managed after very little sleep to commute via rail. The walk along embassy row was so pleasant and this is the Korean Cultural Center (Korean flag a bit limp).
The gallery is on the second floor of this lovely structure. I really enjoyed the Korean bronze sculptures in the windows, small pillows in stacks.
I wasn't sure what to expect when told that two interns would be available all day to install. They were amazing! All I had to do was ask (or not even) and they would do it. Here, I recommended that they string a taut line of monofilament behind the big hanji hanging so that it didn't blow all the way back in the ventilation wind.
See how good they are at working together and getting into the ceiling? Ji Young, our fabulous curator, is in black, and you can see Sammy's back—she's the artist who made this gorgeous piece out of hanji. I love how she labels all of her joomchi work, calling the materials "hanji and water." So poetic and true.
These garments made the cut. I really liked that the curator asked to have the large hanbok displayed with one arm down, not the typical T.
Though I wish I could get backlighting, it won't happen for the big pieces. But I love the little duck corner.
Framed hanji pieces. I'm amazed by how much the color has deepened on the far left. Pomegranate!
I wished that I had teflon folders for them to use on the vinyl but they make do with any tools available, really good sports with a great attitude.
Even though my install was done early, I stayed late for an interview with Voice of America reporter June Soh. She is a consummate professional and it wasn't until hours later that I remembered: right, I am in the nation's capital right now. I had a bit of a difficult commute back because of a fatality on the tracks earlier in the day and have hours ahead of admin prep but wanted to share the process while I still have a bit of steam.

Please come Friday night to the opening, even if it rains! I've seen half the show installed already and it's only going to get better once Steph (who popped in to deliver work at the end of the day with her precious new baby) installs and Adam's pots arrive.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Fresh week

I don't remember how many weeks ago I finally got around to my flax paper impregnated with beeswax (with embedded dyed paper thread). It was a great idea but the process of turning the whole thing inside out changed it a bit. This is why I prefer working with more flexible paper, though it's always nice to have a change here and there.
Trying to remember this mantra as I enter another flurry of travel/show prep. I've been getting a lot of acupuncture from someone a friend recommended and he has been so helpful because he actually listens to me and explains things. I've learned so much, which explains years of discomfort, pain, mysterious conditions, etc. But it requires lifestyle changes that of course are challenging when still highly plugged into the old lifestyle.

I enjoyed the gathering to close my show and finally took some pictures of the whole thing before taking it down. Today has been a mix of fixing old pieces, finding boxes for things, packing, making lists, and constructing new student sugetas for summer teaching. I also discovered that the buy I made on a whim was a great one: I am converted to this line of canned fish! Could easily have it every day. Now, time for tea and trying to reconfigure a new dress.

Friday, April 21, 2017

The in-between times

It took days to catch up on work after Atlanta. I finally got back to making things a few days ago but had a lot of interruptions and have been preparing for a road trip that begins next week. Here is a silly thing that was supposed to be something else but now is another problem to solve.
This was a wonderful pleasure, to visit the museum and see this woven hanji tray in objects storage. Amazing! I also got to see the Korean gallery that I hadn't visited in a while and its new rotation of objects.
Their new acquisition is gorgeous, painted by a famous regent and scholar when he was 79 years old of orchids. The moon jar was back out and I loved looking at the garments more closely, and a headpiece made of gilded paper!
Having fun making new garments based on a slightly different Korean style. I will probably take them for show and tell tomorrow for my show's closing reception. See you there!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Two down!

My Atlanta show is up (here are some pictures)! That means the second of six shows this year is finally installed. This one is up for a while, which makes it worth all the work getting it there.
This is the view upon entering the main gallery.
This was when we had to corral lots of tall guys to help us place a huge case cover onto the case without damaging the Korean bal and bal teul. This is the moment where Chris and Jerry were yelling that they needed help. Everyone paused before jumping in because we knew that the case had already been polished and no one was wearing gloves. But it was easier to place it first before raising it again to polish fingerprints inside.
This is a shot of the back gallery from the back of the room. We all got a lot of exercise getting everything ready. Walking, lifting, polishing, hammering, carrying, climbing, crawling, and so on. Juan, the preparator/installer, had retired months ago and the position was still vacant so I did a ton of double duty even though I've never made museum mounts before. Now I know a lot more about how this kind of show gets made, and appreciate these behind the scenes people SO MUCH MORE. Fortunately, Juan came on the second day to help install TV screens and more, which was an enormous help.
He hung these cases as well and was really kind about staying a long time, well into bad traffic time (remember, there was a huge highway bridge collapse due to careless arson) and WELL past lunchtime. Our lunches got pushed later and later each day, while arrival times got earlier each day and departures later. I brought hundreds of hanji strips to cord in the evenings, thinking I'd have relaxing long evenings, but I didn't touch a single one.
But in the end, the show looks great and I feel like I accomplished something that I've wanted to do forever: a comprehensive show about hanji that includes how to, history, still and moving images, things to touch, and lots of art. The catering spread at the opening was beautiful and we had a mention on NPR in the morning! I was wrung dry but grateful for the chance to show at this amazing facility. I had a fantasy that I'd finish install early so that I could spend time with the collection—whoa, was I silly to think I'd finish early. But someday I'll go back on a more relaxed trip to see this incredible collection.