I am a cartographer of cultures and an icon maker in my lucid worlds.
Jiha Moon (b. 1973) is a Korean-born artist working out of Atlanta, Georgia. Moon is a mixed-media artist who has worked with ceramics, lithographic prints, and cyanotype prints; her work combines traditional Eastern imagery with the abstraction of Western modern art, creating a compound of culture and identity.
Of Moon’s works, her ceramics are striking, typically combining porcelain or earthenware with human characteristics like eyes and lips. While somewhat unexpected, Moon’s evocative ceramics utilize Eastern media and symbols (such as dragons, cherry blossoms, and fortune cookies) and amalgamate them with bright colors and unusual shapes and cultural references like Angry Birds and references to the Twitter logo.
Her work titled YouandI (Blue) from 2018 shows two stacked ceramic fortune cookies with blue floral decoration and eyes. While not as conspicuous as some of her other ceramics, YouandI (Blue) is still a unique piece that draws inspiration from Chinese blue and white porcelain, as shown that deep blue is the only color used on top of a white glaze. Whereas ceramics as a medium may bring vessels and dishes to mind, Moon has not created a vessel to serve food but made the food itself, using the same materials and process.
The piece is ironic, utilizing clay to make food that is typically rolled, pinched, or otherwise worked with and then heated or baked during preparation. Making clay vessels is much the same: being worked with and then heated in a kiln. It should also be noted that fortune cookies while being associated with Chinese restaurants, are American in origin; fortune cookies were invented in San Francisco but have now become synonymous with Chinese culture in America. Moon subverts the viewer’s expectation through her work as YouandI (Blue) reworks and combines cultural iconography into something new.
Abby Perpich is a volunteer at the FSU Museum of Fine Arts. Her research into the art of Jiha Moon is part of our ongoing series, Permanent (Re)collections.