CONTEMPORARY KOREAN ARTISTS MAKE A CONNECTION
by Elizabeth Michelman
Carol Rabe, curator at Pine Manor’s Hess Gallery, has brought together five Korean-born women artists working around Boston in different media: graphic art, photography, painting, fabric art and ceramic sculpture.
Each has from five to eight works in this exhibition. Most of them have studied in the United States as well as in Korea. Several are mothers. One wonders what conflict these cultural transplants might feel between the authority of their discipline and their wish for freedom. Do they feel bound to cultural traditions? Do they parrot the new?
Courting the soft word, they appear to draw on Buddhist philosophy, ancestor worship and Christian belief as well as art forms of both East and West. Their search for awareness and courage stirs moods and raises questions in our encounter with worlds like and yet unlike our own.
Entering the day-lit galleries from pine-shaded grounds, we are drawn toward the cheerful humanity of Ahram Kim’s Korean friends and family. In her black and white photographs of couples, Kim seeks to “capture the happiness and love felt by these people around me.” The hugging and smiling middle- aged spouses display much cause for happiness: fashionable clothes, safe neighborhoods, healthy bodies and, as the titles inform us, security in a long- lasting relationship. Such images may inspire those of us still yearning for similar attainment and fulfillment.