”Harmony and Contrast” at Highwire Gallery introduces a variety of works on paper with both Eastern and Western cultural flavors. The exhibit presents complex techniques and a simple and sophisticated blend of craft to art and art to craft.
The idea of this exhibit came to Piety Choi, who curated the show and participates, when she visited Korea in June, 2012, and in October, 2011, to participate in the Ansan International Art Fair and the Incheon Women Art Biennale.
Choi met a few talented Korean artists and realized that they were all using paper as the main material to create dimensional works. This reminded her of several artists in the Greater Philadelphia region (Karen Steen, Maria DiMauro, Heather Corey, Caroline Garcia Ziegler) whose work would pair well with her own work and work by the artists from Korea (Sung-Ock Shin, Namsoon Lee, Kyung-jin Yoo).
Michael Moore, a professor at Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and Chairman of the Post-Baccalaureate Program, also contributes to the exhibition as the Honored Artist and Speaker. Moore’s insight into the art and techniques of drawing can make this complex process understandable. “Nearly everyone has done some kind of drawing…Every line is an idea in itself. Each new line transforms the image it lives within. Drawn lines can show time, even intervals, or spaces. Drawings can verify life,” he said.
Karen Steen was the featured artist at Highwire gallery last month and is also a part of this exhibition. Much of her work, in October, was mixed media and materials with and on paper. It was so strong that I found an imperfection, an unattached fold of layered tissue, which enhanced my appreciation and understanding of the skill of her technique. “Dance Beneath” clearly defines the meaning of “drawing with scissors.” The three dimensional elements draw you into this work.
Steen uses graphite and colored pencil to draw on the watery paint solution and rusty objects-stained paper, responding to the random marks that have occurred. Her detailed and meticulous drawings, some on a small scale, call for close examination by the viewer. The interest is to think about the things we cannot see, that which is too small or hidden beneath the surface. And the challenge is to frame the art in a way that compliments the work. Framing is not just about mere protection or fad. Creative framing can further the art when done imaginatively.
Piety Choi, in my opinion, is an artist who understands the human condition. This is not only reflected in her art but also in her vocation to foster and instruct others. The “Shadows of the Soul” series reveals and illustrates her observation and understanding of humans. These works and other similar works best represent her art done with sumi ink on Korean rice paper.
A collective presentation of twenty small works of art has a great impact on a viewer. Choi and Sung-Ock Shin both use this collective visual display in their art. It is when the individual components are separated from the whole of the display that the strength of the individual art is realized or lost. Sung-Ock Shin’s presentation, most of all, embodies the applied simple and sophisticated blend of craft to art and art to craft.
The entire back room of the gallery is dedicated to her crafted traditional Korean dak paper figures and objects. The best part is that her work is of wonderful pure and simple peace and joy. It’s fun too.
This exhibition will end in early December 2012. Gallery Hours: Fri, Sat, Sun 12-4 pm and by appointment. Highwire Gallery, 2040 Frankford Avenue. Contact: email@example.com
—Roman Blazic is the second of three generations to participate in the arts: photography, songwriting and musical performance. Roman is a Board Member of the Friends of Penn Treaty Park and an active supporter of the Fishtown art scene. He also contributes photographs to the local community newspaper.