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Eun-Kyung Suh Uses Silk to Interpret the Collection

Eun-Kyung Suh
A model of the Weisman Art Museum additions

The Weisman Art Museum (WAM) opens its doors on October 2 after a year of renovation and the addition of four new galleries. Designed by the museum's original architect, Frank Gehry, the new area also includes a special studio for artistic collaborations.

With added room to show off its collections, the museum invited two artists, Sharon Louden and Eun-Kyung Suh, to create solo exhibitions. Their challenge was to create new work in relationship to the collections. Louden is a New York-based sculptor, installation, and public artist. Her work uses aluminum and responds to the Frank Gehry designed building.

Suh is a UMD associate professor in the Department of Art and Design. As an installation artist from Seoul, Korea and Duluth, Minn., she agreed to work with WAM’s renowned Korean furniture collection.

“I combined inspiration from the collection. I researched into the Twin Cities, Duluth, and the Hawaiian-Korean immigrant communities,” said Suh. “I chose two objects to display as part of the gallery-sized installation. A kitchen cabinet from the nineteenth century and an enclosed wedding ‘gama’—a human-powered carrier to convey people. My fabric-based sculptural practice helped me create ‘anchae’, a Korean word that describes the women’s quarters of a traditional Korean home.”

Suh transferred borrowed Korean immigrants’ family photographs to hundreds of yards of silk from Korea. She designed an environment that recalls a processional space and a domestic interior. The exhibit signifies that marriage is the start of a traditional Korean woman’s adult life, as well as the important aspect of her domain, the kitchen.

Visitors pass through the enclosed silk spaces and view the images on silk walls that depict Korean immigrants at different stages in life. The curtained walls are defined by geometric configurations in which Suh pieced together different colored silk portions. The patterns echo the façade design of Korean furniture. “The silk spaces suggest both the constants and the fluctuations experienced by immigrants,” said Suh. “The installation not only commemorates the Korean immigrants, but it also brings us closer to its details. It asks us to ponder our own life-ways and passages.”

About Eun-Kyung Suh

Since receiving her MA and MFA in Design from the University of Iowa, Eun-Kyung Suh has built an extensive record of exhibitions. She has had shows across the United States and in such places as Montreal, Canada, St. Petersburg, Russia, and Zurich, Switerland.

About the Exhibition

"Sympathies" is on display at the Weisman Art Museum, 333 East River Road, Minneapolis, Minn. from Oct. 2, 2011 - May 20, 2012. The opening reception is Sun., Oct. 2, 2011, from 1-6 pm. The artist talk is Wed., Feb. 29, 2012, from 6-8 pm. For info contact: 612-625-9494.

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Installation by Eun-Kyung Suh  

Written by Cheryl Reitan, September 2011

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