By Melissa Silverman
Southwest’s Culture House and the Korean Cultural Center in Washington, DC are presenting joint exhibitions featuring digital video works by three Korean artists and a large-scale outdoor mural by a Korean-American artist, DC-based Julia Chon, also known as Kimchi Juice.
Chon’s mural, Crane Dancers, is the first mural installation in the Culture House’s outdoor Avant Garden. The work includes symbols of longevity and panels that evoke traditional Korean screen paintings.
“I wanted to paint a mural that celebrated my Korean culture while having a modern, contemporary twist,” Chon said. “With public art, it is something people will see when they go outdoors, it’s something you come across every day. I usually paint Asian women, Korean women, so to have that representation in portraiture, in a way that speaks to my experience as a Korean woman, is very important. At the heart of it, public art is the democratization of art.”
The accompanying video exhibition, titled The Day After, is on display inside the Culture House’s gallery and explores themes of pandemic-induced shifts and recovery. Works from Korean media artists Ivetta Sunyoung Kang, Su Hyun Nam, and Jayoung Yoon offer visitors a window into intimate moments and highlight images of the unseen in everyday life.
“The Day After examines the physical, spatial and emotional effects of unexpected changes to our life and environment during and after COVID-19,” said Ji Young Yun, curator of exhibition and design for the Korean Cultural Center in Washington DC. Yun said that the pandemic has made it challenging to invite international artists to display traditional works, but that the video format made it possible to highlight artists of Korean heritage living in the U.S. and Canada.
The exhibitions offer a cross-cultural exchange at a time when travel is limited by the pandemic, and Allison Nance, curator of exhibitions at Culture House, spoke to the importance of bringing works from artists with a global perspective to Southwest DC.
“There are so many residents who have lived here for decades or generations, so ideally we are showing exhibitions and doing types of programming that are accessible for tourists who are coming in and anybody across the District, as well as our neighbors all around us,” Nance said.
The Day After remains on display from September 18 through November 20, 2021 (walk-in hours are 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. on Saturdays only) and Crane Dancers remains on display from September 4 through January 30, 2022 (viewable 24/7).