The work of Jiha Moon and Stephanie H. Shih is both aesthetic and political, a commentary on assimilation as a process in which one’s national origin is not forgotten or erased.
by John Yau June 27, 2020
Something I noticed after the country went into quarantine was that people began to post pictures on their social media platforms of the foods they were making at home. For a while, many people baked sourdough loaves. I saw lots of ethnic food as well as views of elaborate meals, even though no one was coming to dinner.
I also noticed that little attention was paid in the photos to the plates and platters on which the food was served. It got me thinking: The vessel is integral to the history of ceramics. When we think of food, we might not care what delivers it to the table, but when we think of ceramics, we might wish that no food or beverage ever dirtied it.
Until the 1950s, ceramics was a genre connected primarily with function, and rarely accepted as fine art. Peter Voulkos is widely considered the first ceramic artist to break down the barrier separating the functional with the purely aesthetic object. Voulkos’s breakthrough, which has been well documented, took place during the 1950s, and culminated in his 1959 exhibition of huge ceramic sculptures at the Landau Gallery in Los Angeles.
Voulkos was invited to teach at the Los Angeles County Art Institute (now Otis College of Art and Design) in 1954. He remained there until his controversial Landau Gallery show, at which point he took a teaching position at UC Berkeley. Voulkos’s students at Otis included John Mason and Ken Price, both of whom gained a reputation for their ceramic sculptures. Robert Arneson, who was not Voulkos’s student, was nonetheless changed by his encounter with the latter’s work.
This thoughtfully curated exhibition is evidence that much compelling and adventurous art is indeed being produced all around the country. by Gregory Volk March 7, 2020
BENTONVILLE, Arkansas — A follow up to the 2014-15 survey show State of the Art, State of the Art 2020 at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and its new non-collecting sister site, the Momentary, is intended to be “a cross-section of artists working today.”
Organized by Momentary and Crystal Bridges curator Lauren Haynes, with Crystal Bridges associate curators Alejo Benedetti and Allison Glenn, it includes 61 artists whose works span painting, sculpture, photography, performance, video, digital media, textiles, and ceramics. It is similar in scale, intent, and ambition to, say, the Whitney Biennial. That’s where things get interesting. For all its equity and diversity, the last Whitney Biennial still focused squarely on East and West Coast artists, especially those from New York and Los Angeles (John Yau provided a helpful by-the-numbers analysis).
What is striking about Jiha Moon’s work is that it does not quite fit into the New York art world’s current concerns with racial and ethnic identity because, as far as I can tell, this art world has never addressed issues of Asian cultural dislocation.
by John Yau January 11, 2020
I first met Jiha Moon in 2000 when she was a graduate student in the MFA program in fine art at the University of Iowa. Although she seldom shows in New York, I have tried to keep up with her career. In 2012, Moon was awarded a working artist’s grant from the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia, which she used to sign up at a local clay studio in Atlanta and create imaginative, nonfunctional, vessel-like forms that humorously combine aspects of Western and Eastern culture. In 2014, she showed a group of these at Ryan Lee Gallery, but she has not shown in New York since. This is why I was interested in the exhibition Jiha Moon: Enigmatics at the Project Room of Derek Eller gallery (January 4 – February 2, 2020). Moon, who was born in Daegu, South Korea in 1973, came to America after she had received a BFA and MFA in Korea in the late 1990s. She was in her mid-20s when she moved to America, where she has lived and worked for the past 20 years. I don’t think it is an exaggeration to say that her life could be divided into two distinct periods. It is possible for someone born in another country to move to the US and, culturally speaking, become American. But it becomes harder as each year passes, as more and more of your birth country, culture, and language become part of you; you share collective experience with others of your generation. You don’t get to start over when you relocate to a new country with a different language, culture, and customs, even though that is exactly what you must do.
Atlanta-based, South Korean-born artist Jiha Moon’s paintings look like contained explosions, the world blown to smithereens. There’s the suggestive tang of gunpowder in the air and billowing smoke seems to dissipate as we contemplate her manic miasmas of color and form.
But look closely at Moon’s works painted on glossy Mylar, and all is not destruction and chaos. Instead there are folk tales and familiar apparitions emerging from the fog: beasts and sprites, dragons and fish, twisting trees and peeping eyeballs watching us as we watch them.
MARCH 11 – JULY 24, 2016
KEMPER MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART, KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI
MARCH 15 – MAY 22, 2016
NERMAN MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART, OVERLAND PARK, KANSAS
In 2016 we’re trying to make sense of our monuments. Broken monuments, unfaithful monuments. Bloated monuments, impaired monuments. Monuments erasing centuries of history, strangely self-satisfying Facebook monuments flashing solidarity with victims of some far-off tragedy. On May 10, 2016, Poland’s Institute of National Remembrance (INR) announced the removal and relocation of nearly 500 Soviet monuments. Debates continue to flare across the southern United States over the elimination of Confederate flags and statues like the life-size one of a staunch confederate soldier in the Mason-Dixon border city of Rockville, Maryland.