Beauty Reigns

The McNay Museum, San Antonio, TX
June 11 - August 17, 2014

Curated by René Paul Barilleaux
Catalog essay by Lilly Wei (Catalog available through

This exhibition, organized by René Paul Barilleaux, the McNay's Chief Curator/Curator of Art after 1945, assembles the work of thirteen emerging and mid-career abstract painters whose art is characterized in whole or part by high-key color, obsessive layering of surface imagery, use of overall and repeated patterns, stylized motifs, fragments of representation, and a tension between melancholy and the sublime. To date, little focus has been placed on works which celebrate the exoticism, exuberance, and optimism found in the work of the painters assembled in Beauty Reigns.

Beauty Reigns is accompanied by an illustrated book that includes two essays by Lilly Wei and Stephen Westfall contextualizing this approach to abstract painting and tracing its roots in twentieth-century art. Additional biographical and interpretative texts on each of the artists are authored by Barilleaux. The book Beauty Reigns reflects the dynamic nature of the exhibition in its aesthetic, approach, and design; expands the imagery seen in the museum; and offers a larger window into the work of these artists and their particular approaches to painting. Artists included in the exhibition:

Jose Alvarez D.O.P.A
Kamrooz Aram
Ryan McGinness
Charles Burwell
Annette Davidek
Fausto Fernandez
Nancy Lorenz
Beatriz Milhazes
Jiha Moon
Paul Henry Ramirez
Rex Ray
Rosalyn Schwartz
Susan Chrysler White

Exhibition will travel to Akron Museum, Akron, OH


View press release website

Foreign Love Too

Ryan Lee Gallery, New York, NY
February 1 - March 8, 2014

Opening Reception:
Saturday, February 1, 4:00-6:00pm
Ryan Lee Gallery


RYAN LEE is pleased to present Jiha Moon: Foreign Love Too, a solo exhibition of new work by the Korean-born, Atlanta-based artist. On view is a selection of paintings, works on paper, and ceramic sculptures, both free standing and wall-mounted. Employing a range of traditional and non-traditional materials ­ from acrylic paint and ink to embroidery and synthetic hair ­ Moon carefully orchestrates hyper-dense compositions that not only reference diverse art historical styles, but also reference the commonality and disparity of multiple cultures. The title of the exhibition refers to the societal obsession with foreignness and the never-ending quest for “the new” that simultaneously expands and restricts our understanding of otherness. The show will run concurrently with Jiha Moon: Falk Visiting Artist; Foreign Love at the Weatherspoon Art Museum in Greensboro, NC, which is on view from January 18 to April 13, 2014.

Culling elements from American, Korean, Japanese, Chinese, and other Eastern and Western cultures, Moon’s work explores the multiplicity of 21st-century cultural identities influenced by popular culture, technology, racial perceptions, and folklore. She juxtaposes classical Asian motifs with contemporary and digital iconography such as the Angry Bird and Hello Kitty logos in contrast to the Korean folk mask, Tal. These co-existing yet disparate elements reflect the bombardment of visual information typical in daily life. Moon’s references to multiple artistic movements― from ancient calligraphy to abstract expressionism to pop art― are emblematic of the plurality and highly referential nature of contemporary art.

At first glance, the work conjures kitschy Asian references, but upon closer examination, it directly questions the role and necessity of cultural assimilation in an increasingly globalized world. A Georgia resident for more than a decade, Moon uses recurring imagery of the peach, for example, to explore the complexities of a famous regional icon by highlighting its use as a potent symbol of ancient Korean mythology. In the “Peach Mask” series, executed on Hanji, a traditional Korean mulberry paper, the peach not only gives shape to the overall work, but also suggests a more lascivious and humorous interpretation of the colloquialism, “georgia peach.” Here, the peach takes on qualities of many culture- specific masks, such as Hopi Kachina, Mexican, African, and digital (emoticons) masks, to examine the dual nature of identity and anonymity. Many of the mask works include numerous eyes rendered with a single or double lid or in various colors, in response to the increasing attention on K-Pop, Pan-Asian culture, anime, and plastic surgery.

The ceramics on display comprise the artist’s first foray into the medium of clay. Ancient techniques such as slip caste and crackle glaze are used in tandem with Moon’s characteristic iconography. The wall-mounted works, called Norigae, reference the intricacy and time-consuming nature of certain ethnic beauty practices, including Asian, Indian, Caribbean, African, and Celtic traditions. Additionally, familiar archetypes commonly found in commercial product logos, like the tigers of Tiger Balm or dragons and bamboo on chopstick wrappers, evoke stereotypical Western modes of commodification. Moon is acutely aware of how Western perceptions of Asian-ness impact and reflect the current reality of both cultures. Through these reconfigurations, Moon explores her cultural heritage, the assumptions made about it, and its significance or lack thereof in contemporary life. Moon’s work confronts the breakdown of cultural barriers by challenging common notions of East and West, ancient and modern, high and low to develop a rich visual vocabulary all her own.

Jiha Moon (b. 1973) is from DaeGu, Korea and lives and works in Atlanta, GA. Moon’s solo exhibition Foreign Love was on view at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia in Fall 2013, later traveling to the Weatherspoon Art Museum in Spring 2014. Moon received her MFA from the University of Iowa. Upcoming group exhibitions include Beauty Reigns: A Baroque Sensibility in Recent Painting curated by Rene Paul Barilleaux at McNay Art Museum, San Antonio, TX, and Made in America at National Academy Museum of Art, New York. She has exhibited widely, including at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia, Atlanta; Savannah College of Art and Design, GA; Mint Museum of Art, Charlotte, NC; Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, MA; and the Weatherspoon Museum of Art, Greensboro, NC. Her work is included in permanent collections, among them the Asia Society and Museum, New York; the High Museum of Art, Atlanta; The Mint Museum of Art, Charlotte, NC; Smithsonian Institute, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; and The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond. She was included in the important exhibition One Way or Another: Asian American Art Now curated by Melissa Chiu at the Asia Society and Museum, New York in 2006, which later traveled to the University of Houston and Berkeley Art Museum, and Levity curated by Katherine Carl at The Drawing Center, New York in 2008. In 2010, she completed residencies at the Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia, PA. Moon is the recipient of a Joan Mitchell Painting & Sculpture Grant (2011).

View gallery website

Foreign Love : Falk Visiting Artist

Weatherspoon Museum, Greensboro, NC
Jan 18, 2014 - Apr 13, 2014

As the Spring 2014 Falk Visiting Artist at the Weatherspoon and the Art Department at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Moon will present a lecture and gallery talk on her work and participate in MFA graduate student critiques.

This exhibition was originally organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia as part of the 2012/13 Working Artist Projects award program. Xandra Eden, Curator of Exhibitions organized the exhibition at the Weatherspoon. Special thanks to the 2013/14 Falk Visiting Artist Committee.

View press release website

Foreign Love

The Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia (MOCA GA)
2012/2013 Working Artist Project (WAP) September 7 - November 2, 2013

Opening Reception:
Friday, September 6th, 6:30-8:30pm


ABOUT Foreign Love
Jiha Moon has been working in three areas for this exhibition: works on paper, ceramic sculptures, and Norigae (traditional Korean clothing accessories, example shown at right) as art objects. She notes that “throughout the entire exhibition, my subject deals with my interests of mixing multiple cultural references (eastern, western and beyond) and playing with the idea of shifting identities. For example, I often switch the colors of familiar objects to something you would not normally see, and I adopt many different styles of paint/line application.”

“There is clearly great depth and diversity in Atlanta’s artistic pool. My selections include three dynamic female artists, all of whom explore the complex merging of abstraction and representation within painting, each in their own singular voice. I look forward to seeing how their exhibitions play a role in the ongoing vitality and plurality of painting today.”
- Julie Rodrigues Widholm

ABOUT the Juror
This year, Julie Rodrigues Widholm, Pamela Alper Associate Curator, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (MCA), came to Atlanta to serve as juror for this round of artists’ submissions. Rodrigues Widholm recently curated Rashid Johnson: Message to Our Folks and is currently organizing Colombian artist Doris Salcedo’s first survey exhibition for Fall 2014 at the MCA and is also co-organizing Amalia Pica’s first American solo museum exhibition with MIT List Visual Art Center, Boston. Since joining the MCA in 1999, she has curated group exhibitions such as Escultura Social: A New Generation of Art from Mexico City, which was accompanied by a bi-lingual catalogue, as well as in-depth presentations of the MCA Collection in Constellations: Paintings from the MCA Collection and MCA Exposed: Defining Moments in Photography, 1967-2007. In addition, she has organized solo exhibitions of dozens of Chicago-based artists including most recently Scott Reeder, Laura Letinsky, Molly Zuckerman-Hartung and Cauleen Smith. Rodrigues Widholm holds an M.A. in Modern Art History, Theory and Criticism from The School of the Art Institute in Chicago and a B.A. in Art History and Political Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

WAP is an awards program to support established visual artists of merit who reside in the metropolitan Atlanta area. This initiative provides an unparalleled level of support for individual artists, expands the Museum’s mission, and promotes Atlanta as a city where artists can live, work, and thrive. As with past years, a guest juror will select three visual artists to receive the Award. Representing our city’s best and brightest; these artists will be supported with an exhibition, promotion, a studio assistant, and a major stipend to create work over the course of the year. This program is supported in large by a grant from The Charles Loridans Foundation with additional funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.

View press release website


Saltworks Gallery, Atlanta, GA
April 14 - May 25, 2012

Opening Reception:
Saturday, April 14, 7-10 PM

Storyteller, 2011
Ink, acrylic, fabric, embroidery patches on Hanji, 25 x 37.5"

SALTWORKS is pleased to present Detourist, our third solo exhibition of Atlanta-based artist Jiha Moon. Moon’s floating landscapes are shifting cultural narratives, playfully blending symbols, materials and techniques to slow down the viewer’s impulse to assume meaning and sometimes mislead by highlighting popular misconceptions or “shortcuts”. Her dynamic paintings skillfully integrate color, mark making, material and iconic imagery to examine the impermanence of cultural identity. In Detourist, Moon cites influences from a variety of origins, ranging from 13th century Taoist painting, American Pop artists, Walt Disney, Dr. Seuss, emoticons to Asian restaurant menus.

Through these works, Moon asks the question: Is the feeling of authenticity only experienced by the tourist? And how does this feeling shift when we see more and know more? Moon understands the influence of appearance and the natural impulse to assign assumptions to the familiar. Working from this knowledge, Moon layers colors, marks, and materials camouflaging their attributes to create multiple meanings and hybrid origins; the works have an unexpectedness of a new world. Using popular symbols to create her mishmash identities, Moon pushes the fast interpretation of the fantastic and nonsense to challenge common misinterpretations. In addition to the paintings and two mixed media works from her 2010 residency at the Fabric Workshop and Museum, Moon has created two installations - Flag and Sack, a wall mounted series of patchwork flags with a crafted resemblance to social and national groups, and Detour, an assemblage of prints and direct screen printing on the wall creating a whimsical display of imagery taken from western fortune cookies.

Jiha Moon is a 2011 recipient of the prestigious Joan Mitchell Foundation Award. She has solo exhibitions at the Mint Museum of Art, Charlotte, NC; Cheekwood Museum of Art, Nashville, TN and Rhodes College, Clough-Hanson Gallery, Memphis, TN. She has been featured in group exhibitions at the Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia, PA; The Drawing Center, New York, NY; Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, MA; Asia Society, New York, NY and the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, Atlanta, GA. Moon’s work is included in numerous public collections including the Asia Society, New York, NY; High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA; Mint Museum of Art, Charlotte, NC; the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C; Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA and the Weatherspoon Museum of Art, Greensboro, NC among others.


Arario Gallery Seoul Samcheong
February 1 - March 3, 2012

Arario Gallery

Arario Gallery Seoul Samcheong is pleased to present the opening of Springfield, a solo exhibition by American-based artist Jiha Moon, on February 1st 2012. Currently residing in Atlanta, US, Jiha Moon (born in 1973) is one of representative Korean artists with a thriving art practice in America. Springfield presents over 30 various experimental works the artist has produced in the last three years, and has immense significance as the artist’s first solo show in Korea