“I am a sponge and observe everything and adopt things into my work.”
Not only does the Korean born, American based artist Jiha Moon observe things she is also an avid collector of ephemera.
As she told Blouin Art Info’s Ashton Cooper “I collect many things from all over the place. I have hundreds of souvenirs and knick-knacks in my studios.”
And often images of and from her memorabilia find their way into her paintings, prints and ceramics; her cartographic explorations of the cross cultural influences that make up our increasingly globalized world.
As she explained to the New American Paintings Blog’s, Paul Boshears “The cultural maps I make explore the ways in which an image can be read in one way in one culture and have a totally different read in another culture. Translating cultural incongruities is one of the most exciting and nerve-wracking experiences I have. They happen every day. I’m not digging through a book of art history or philosophy; my work is concerned with the everyday experience. The images I use are commonly experienced, they’re everyday experiences that are familiar to anyone, but I twist them. I make these icons less recognizable with many layers and draw the audience into these weird positions where the images feel familiar, but they can’t name it quickly. In this sense, the maps that I am building are more of a ‘mindscape.”
A mindscape that is concerned with misunderstands that can arise in our instant communication that ignores the different meanings an icon can have in different cultures.
About which Moon has elaborated, stating “Iconography is the most important layer to understanding my work because icons mean a lot in our everyday lives. Everyone today has a computer or a cell phone and they employ icons to mediate the intention of the users. If you want to communicate with others, there is an icon that has to be pushed or selected in order for you to communicate. It’s everywhere, like a visual dictionary of communication. In this way, I think of the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland. I use his smile a lot in my work. He can be a very humorous addition, but he’s also very misleading. A lot of the time, presupposing identification can mislead you. I might use a rainbow flag that would have a strong meaning in a Korean context, but it might also be read like it was the gay pride flag. My work is largely concerned with misreading and communication between people.”
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Catherine Fox wrote about Moon’s 2010 exhibition Blue Peony and Impure Thoughts, saying “Moon moves effortlessly between abstraction and figuration, flatness and depth. She has begun to add collage. She miraculously corrals all these elements into energetic but sane compositions. The artist fuses references from cartoons to colophons with similar aplomb. The delicate blue peony, a symbol of good fortune in East Asian art, coexists with toothy Pac-man figures made of colored stickers and Atlanta peaches drawn from graphics on souvenirs.”
Moon’s current exhibition Double Welcome, Most Everyone's Mad Here is on show at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts until the 6th of March next year.