Works incorporating handmade paper highlight the unique perspectives and lived experiences of Korean and Korean American artists.
Daughter by Steph Rue (American, b. 1981) was commissioned by the Asian Art Museum in 2021 amid rising anti-Asian violence. Inspired by the bojagi in the museum collection — traditional Korean textiles often comprised of leftover fabric scraps — Rue created a “quilt” by joining pieces of hanji, a Korean handmade paper known for its durability and 1,500-year-long history. Engaging in dialogue with her cultural heritage, this work reflects the paradoxes and multiplicity of Rue’s immigrant experience while making a heartfelt appeal for the safety of the next generation.
Taking the medium and themes of Daughter as an organizing principle, this exhibition also includes works incorporating paper by Jiha Moon (b. Korea, 1973), Yoong Bae (American, b. Korea, 1928–1992), Kim Jeeun (Korean, b. 1963), Koo Bohnchang (Korean, b. 1953), and Theresa Hak Kyung Cha (American, b. Korea, 1951–1982). From Moon’s playful mix of symbols drawn from social media, Korean folk painting, and American kitsch to Cha’s poetic exploration of language on joss paper (typically burned as an offering to the deceased), each piece brings the artist’s unique perspective and lived experience to the foreground. Collectively, these works speak to the complexity and variety of contemporary Korean and Korean American stories.
Image: Daughter, 2022, by Steph Rue (American, b. 1981). Korean mulberry paper (hanji), cotton batting, cotton thread, found Bible pages, persimmon juice, and inkjet print. Asian Art Museum, Gift of Steph Rue, F2022.37. Photograph © Asian Art Museum.
Image: Immortal Dessert Dixie, 2021, by Jiha Moon (b. Korea, 1973). Earthenware with glaze and underglaze decoration (lamp); acrylic screenprint on hanji paper (lampshade). Museum purchase, Mortimer-Harvey Fund, 2022.103. Photograph © Derek Eller Gallery.