Subscribe Today!

I won the POST lottery–the studio of Bohyun Yoon and WonJung Choi


A dreamy utopianism underpins Philadelphia Open Studios Tour, the annual event in which art lovers and artists get to connect with each other without galleries in the middle. It’s the equivalent of discovering a starlet-to-be sipping a black-and-white at a Hollywood lunch counter.

choi and bo
WonJung Choi and Bohyun Yoon in their studio

Realistically, the most likely scenarios are that a collector may find a piece of art at a great price and an artist gets a chance to put out work for sale that doesn’t have gallery representation. But the big dream that fuels it all is the discovery of unrecognized talent.

Earlier this month, during the open studios events, I hit the POST lottery–with the help of a tip. I went to one studio and it fulfilled my personal fantasy–finding an artist I didn’t know whose work swept me off my feet. The studio is in the basement of the Crane Building, and it belongs to Bohyun Yoon and his wife WonJung Choi. Bo, as he prefers to be called, said the two of them have been in Philadelphia for a year. Bo was at RISD, prior.

Bohyun Yoon’s shadows animate his studio wall.

Bo’s work, which makes use of shadows and reflections, is about bodies and and gender and sex and the individual as a small item in a large society–and lots more. Along the wall of his studio he had hanging small Barbie doll-sized cast body parts hanging from clear nylon lines in a seemingly random array of arms and legs and torsos and heads. A light projects a shadow on the wall, and voila, the parts coalesce on the wall into a frieze of figures engaged in sex. A breeze or a shake animates them.

Bohyun Yoon, Merge,2004,Live models, plexiglas mirror, steel, 200 x 800 x 800 cm,Performance at RISD Museum , Rhode Island

Bo also showed us (I was with Andrea) a video of a performance he created with sliding mirrors (think of your closet doors) and naked people with half their bodies on each side of the mirror (the mirror is cut out so they can fit exactly in the hole). Their visible half-bodies became whole via the reflection. When a male performer and a female performer moved to just the right spot, they created a reflection that was half male, half female. You can view the video here.

The work is meticulously crafted, carefully thought through, conceptual and accessible all at once! Yoon is currently teaching glass-making in the crafts department at Tyler School of Art.

WonJung Choi’s fish, courtesy of her website

His wife Choi also works with shadows, and her work has something to do with being a fish out of water as she adjusts to American culture. The work has more of a landscape and museum diorama quality. At the studio I saw a school of 3-D fish out of cut-out plastic sheets with lines of hot glue that project on the wall. Her husband showed us a video of Choi’s installation of an elaborate, large dinosaur skeleton made of what looked like hundreds of pieces of the same materials assembled in the middle of a gallery space and also projected on the wall, creating a 3-D illustration. According to Choi’s online resume she lives and works in New York.

It turns out Bo was in a CFEVA show here in Philadelphia in February, Introduction 2010, at Moore College, so some of you may have seen his work on exhibit. I missed that one (and so much more, goodness knows) and it was right under my nose!