This Present Moment: Crafting Better World
May 13, 2022-April 2, 2023 Renwick Gallery, Smithsonian, Washington DC
This Present Moment: Crafting a Better World showcases American craft like never before. The exhibition highlights the role that artists play in our world to spark essential conversations, stories of resilience, and methods of activism—showing us a more relational and empathetic world. It centers more expansive definitions and acknowledgments of often-overlooked histories and contributions of women, people of color, and other marginalized communities.
On view at SAAM’s Renwick Gallery, This Present Moment activates two floors of gallery space, highlighting over 150 artworks from the museum’s permanent collection in a range of craft mediums from fiber and ceramics to glass and mixed media. Approximately 135 of the featured artworks are new acquisitions, never before seen at the Renwick Gallery.
Derek Eller Gallery January 6 - February 5, 2022
Opening Reception: Thursday, January 6, 6-8 pm
Derek Eller Gallery is pleased to present a solo exhibition of new paintings and ceramic sculptures by Atlanta-based artist Jiha Moon. Working with a palette of super-saturated yellows, oranges, magentas and blues against contrasting dark Hanji (Korean mulberry paper) and brown stoneware, Moon mixes ingredients from Asian tradition and folklore, Western contemporary art, and global popular culture to create a vibrant and personal visual language in both two and three dimensions.
Throughout many of the works in this exhibition, Moon incorporates a particular shade of “Stranger Yellow” which she describes as a “mysterious, luscious, yet cautiously high-key color that stands out”. Born in Korea in 1973, Moon has lived in the United States for over twenty years, and this color speaks to her notions of the visibility of the Asian community in America, as well as her own identity as an Asian American artist. The Stranger Yellow manifests itself in myriad ways: as an enlarged Pop brushstroke reminiscent of Lichtenstein, as a banana referencing the pejorative term for an assimilated Asian American, as the flowing blonde hair of a Western princess or Goldilocks, and as the contours of sun-dappled mountains and ocean waves evocative of Asian hanging scrolls.
The centerpiece of the exhibition, a ten-foot diptych entitled Yellowave (Stranger Yellow), contains many of these moves and more. Simultaneously chaotic and meditative, the painting pictures a large fluid landscape of swooping yellow in which twisted and patterned fortune cookies mingle with flowers and creatures from Korean folk art. A Blue Willow pattern motif (coopted from China by 18th Century Western design) occurs throughout. In a seamless cross-pollination of East and West, Moon incorporates additional invented and appropriated iconography in other paintings and sculpture, including Mexican Otomi dolls, Milagros, face jugs of the American South, emojis, tattoo design, and peaches (a symbol of immortality in Asian culture and a simultaneous nod to Moon’s hometown of Atlanta). She deftly utilizes this ever expanding vocabulary of imagery to explore relevant issues of identity, cultural displacement, and miscommunication.
Jiha Moon (born 1973, Daegu, South Korea) lives and works in Atlanta, GA. She had a recent solo exhibition at Abroms-Engel Institute for the Visual Arts at University of Alabama, Birmingham, AL and was included in “State of the Art 2020” at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, AK and “45 at 45” at L.A. Louver Gallery, Venice, CA. She has had solo exhibitions at Museum of Contemporary Art Georgia, Atlanta; The Cheekwood Museum of Art, Nashville, TN; James Gallery of CUNY Graduate Center, NY, among others. She has been included in group shows at Kemper Museum, Kansas City, MO; Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia; Asia Society, New York; and The Drawing Center, NY. Moon’s mid-career survey organized by the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art and Taubman Museum toured more than 10 museum venues around the country through 2018. This will be her second solo exhibition at the gallery.
Korean-born, Atlanta-based artist Jiha Moon juxtaposes Eastern and Western cultures through an exploration of imagery that ranges from historical Korean iconography to contemporary American pop culture. Within her paintings, works on paper, and sculptures, Moon combines layers of images such as dragons, birds, flowers, tigers, bananas, Indian Gods, fortune cookies, and peaches to address the idea of a global society. Moon states “I am a cartographer of cultures and an icon maker in my lucid worlds.”
Global identity is an important theme for Moon, as is popular culture, technology, racial perception, and folklore. Moon’s work is layered with wit and irony, while presenting the viewer with a serious commentary on the way Western culture labels Asian Americans. The peach, which became the focus for Moon’s exhibition, represents many different ideas throughout Asian culture. They are a sign of longevity and happiness, while simultaneously symbolizing the warmth and vitality of spring. In Asian culture, peaches are believed to repel ghosts, while they also represent Moon’s current home state of Georgia. Moon's work explores both sides of her identity forming one unique and singular voice.
Jiha Moon earned her BFA at Korea University and her MFA at Ewah Womans University, both in Seoul, Korea. After moving to the U.S., she completed two additional master’s degrees, an MA and MFA, at the University of Iowa. She has participated in artist residencies at The MacDowell Colony, the Fabric Workshop and Museum, and the Singapore Tyler Print Institute through the Asia Society. She was the recipient of The Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters & Sculptor’s grant in 2011. Moon has exhibited at museums and galleries all over the world including Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Laney Contemporary, Mindy Solomon Gallery, Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, High Museum of Art, Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art, and many more.
Special thanks to Jiha Moon, Laney Contemporary (Savannah, GA), and all the lenders to this exhibition. Thank you to our UAB Visual and Performing Arts members and all supporters - without you this exhibition and programming would not be possible.