Jiha Moon: Chasing Spirits
January 13 – March 19, 2022
MoFA Walmsley Gallery
Combining American pop culture and traditional Korean iconography, Jiha Moon’s ceramics explore issues of global identities and the construction of personal narratives. Utilizing humor and repeated icons and motifs, Moon builds her own rich visual language. Many of the symbols in her work speak to the complex identities Moon navigates as a Korean-born, Atlanta-based artist. In Korean culture, peaches are considered ghost-repelling symbols of vitality and immortality, while in the United States, they are emblematic of Moon’s home state of Georgia. The fortune cookie, which has become synonymous with Chinese American restaurants, can be traced to Japanese bakeries in Los Angeles and San Francisco. Moon also repeats the banana throughout her work – a reference to Andy Warhol’s iconic Velvet Underground album cover and a derogatory term experienced by some second-generation Asian Americans. Understood as “yellow on the outside, white on the inside,” Moon calls out this harmful trivialization of rich and complex identities in her work. Moon’s ceramics take on particular potency now, as an increase in anti-Asian hate crimes has given rise to a national conversation about the experiences of Asian American and Pacific Islander communities.
This exhibition was first organized by the Abroms-Engel Institute for the Visual Arts at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Special thanks to Tina Ruggieri, Assistant Curator at AEIVA, for generously sharing research and insight into this work, and to Laney Contemporary. This exhibition is funded, in part, by a grant from South Arts in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Florida Division of Arts and Culture.
THIS PRESENTATION AND EXHIBITION IS FUNDED, IN PART, BY A GRANT FROM SOUTH ARTS IN PARTNERSHIP WITH THE NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE ARTS AND THE FLORIDA DIVISION OF CULTURAL AFFAIRS.