Last Chance for Constructed Visions

November 21, 2013

The second in our year-long series of contemporary Asian art exhibitions, Constructed Visions: New Media from Korea has been a crowd-pleaser. But it’s only here through Sunday, November 24! Brush up on the background of this exhibition with these previous posts, and hurry in before these fantastic pieces are gone.

Minkyung Lee, The Sink Room

Minkyung Lee’s “Constructed Visions Focused specifically on the work of Minkyung Lee, this describes the artist’s unique process and how her artwork fits into the greater exhibition.

Myoung Ho Lee, Tree 1

“Constructed Visions” Opens Tomorrow! Posted back in August before the exhibition opened, this gives a broad overview of the exhibition and highlights the work of Myoung Ho Lee in particular.


Minkyung Lee’s “Constructed Visions”

October 15, 2013

A Home for Everyone_Foreign home series

In our current exhibition Constructed Visions: New Media from Korea, we’re presenting the work of four Korean artists who challenge our ideas of reality. In the work of one of these artists, Minkyung Lee,  there exist two spaces—the actual environment that the artist captures with her camera and the fictitious space that she constructs using those images.

Minkyung Lee creates a new reality in her images of domestic environments. As a collector selects an object for his or her collection, Lee photographically collects spaces that catch her attention. Capturing the elements within the space (ceiling, furniture, walls and so on) individually, Lee uses these images to construct miniature models.  That miniature environment then becomes the subject of the final photograph, the finished work.

The Sink Room

An influence on this series was Lee’s visit to the studio of artist Cindy Sherman in New York in 2005. As she looked around Sherman’s attic studio, struck by how different it was from other well-known New York artists’ studios, Lee realized that spaces can be the reflection of the person who occupies it. The Foreign Home series, of which the top image A Home for Everyone is part, is an extension of this concept. Lee uses photographs of her own home and those of Korean friends also living in the U.S. to examine how spaces reflect their social and cultural background, aspirations, and the issue of displacement. Although each facet used in Home for Everyone is taken from a concrete location, the final image reflects complex memories and relationships that evolve from the source material. She presents these places of her imagining as a summation of the occupants’ identity, cultural upbringing, situation and aspirations in life.

Although trained as a painter, Minkyung Lee chooses photography. When looking at photography, we usually assume that the image reflects an actual scene or event. However, Lee believes that such reality is temporal and circumstantial and communicates these ideas through her constructed photography. Since memories are continuously changing and affected by subsequent experiences, Lee builds her models, which are based on her memories, with fragile materials and destroys them after they are photographed. ~CM

Minkyung Lee, Home for Everyone_ Foreign Home series2007, Archival inkjet print, Loaned by the artist

Minkyung Lee, The Sink Room2007, Archival inkjet print, Loaned by the artist

Yut: A Classic Korean Game

October 3, 2013

yut setWho doesn’t love games? At both Fusion Fridays and our recent Free Family Festival, we had the Korean game of yut available to play. Similar to classic American board games like Sorry!, yut uses a six-by-six space square board with shortcuts through the middle and four sticks instead of dice. Using several markers (called mal, or “horse”), players throw the sticks onto the playing table and move around the board. The sticks are curved on one side and flat on the other, creating five different possible landing combinations that tell the player how many spaces to move. For example, if two sticks land round side up and two round side down, the player can advance two spaces. Because the rules are relatively simple and the materials easily made, this game has thrived for centuries in Korea.

Want to try yut for yourself? Come to this Saturday’s Silk Road Storytime where you’ll hear Korean stories, learn to play yut, and make a set of your own! If you can’t make it, just print out the board and rule sheet below (click to enlarge) and grab some pennies and popsicle sticks– it’s as easy as coloring one side of each stick.

yut rules

yut board

Celebrate Korea at our Free Family Festival!

September 5, 2013

Korean dancers

Here at Pacific Asia Museum, we offer several opportunities throughout the year for the community to visit us for free. One of our bigger traditions is our Free Family Festival series, which features performances and crafts in addition to free admission. On September 15, 2013 from 12-4 p.m., we’ll be showcasing the arts and culture of Korea at our last Free Family Festival of the year!

Tae Kwon Do Don’t miss our great performance lineup, which ranges from traditional Korean dance to b-boy routines. Kids will love the high-flying tricks of Victory Tae Kwon Do, and audiophiles will appreciate the Haemil Music Group’s contemporary take on traditional Korean music. Check the schedule on our website to make sure you catch your favorite.

Atta Kim, On Air Project

Atta Kim, ON-AIR Project 160-13, from the Series “India”, 2007, Chromogenic print, Courtesy of the artist

While you’re here, visit some new additions to our galleries. Constructed Visions: New Media from Korea opened just a few weeks ago, and showcases the work of four contemporary Korean artists who manipulate reality in different ways. Our newly renovated Korean Gallery takes a thematic approach to Korean material culture, including works from Shamanist, Confucian, and Buddhist contexts. If you saw the gallery when it first opened last fall, you’ll be pleased with the recent rotation of objects– there are several new works to see!

After being inspired in the galleries, the Korean Cultural Center is generously providing several crafts in the museum courtyard that all ages will enjoy. You’ll also have the opportunity to meet author Joan Schoettler, who will be signing her book Good Fortune in a Wrapping Cloth in the museum store.

Can’t make this Free Family Festival? There are many other free opportunities to visit. Try our monthly Silk Road Storytime (next one is Saturday, September 5!) or our Free Fourth Friday. Subscribe to our email newsletter and you’ll also recieve notice of our other upcoming programs. Better yet, you can become a Pacific Asia Museum member, and visit for free anytime! ~CM

“Constructed Visions” Opens Tomorrow!

August 22, 2013

Atta Kim, On Air ProjectTomorrow, we open Constructed Visions: New Media from KoreaThis exhibition introduces four contemporary Korean artists who construct striking examinations of their environments, both urban and rural, using the seemingly infinite possibilities of digital media such as video and photography.

In his ON-AIR Project (top image), Atta Kim explores the duality of existence and non-existence while questioning the basic idea of photography. Instead of documenting and reproducing things that exist, Kim captures the absence of things that no longer exist. Deeply invested in Buddhist philosophy that urges us to understand reality as it is (which is not always as it appears to be), the artist uses a camera to communicate his existential question: how do we define this existence which feels concrete and tangible? By extending exposure times up to eight hours, objects such as crowds and cars eventually vanish in his images: things that move quickly vanish quickly and things that move slowly vanish in the same manner, raising fundamental questions of presence and absence, time and perception. What is left in his photographs is the experience of time, challenging the viewers’ ability to look beyond what they perceive. In Kim’s images, the process of atrophy documented during the hours of exposure becomes a quantifiable evidence of existence: all that exists eventually disappears. At the same time, what captivates the viewer is the striking image embodying a quiet abstract quality, gently guiding the viewer to ponder the meaning of time and existence.

Myoung Ho Lee, Tree #1In his Tree series, Myoung Ho Lee questions the way we view our surroundings by placing a white canvas behind a tree, thereby isolating it from its environment. Trees, viewed as mundane objects, are captured in Lee’s camera as if they were sitters for studio portraits: trees that usually blend into nature as backdrops become centerpieces, objects of aesthetic contemplation and scientific scrutiny. The artist’s way of presenting the trees simplifies our vision, yet complicates our experience of viewing. We are asked to look at these trees and our surroundings with a fresh perspective and to assume a new role as an active viewer, analyzing our understanding of reality which is subjected to much extraneous information. In order to construct his tree portraits, Lee travels around South Korea and observes trees which interest him over the course of the four seasons. Each tree is photographed after laborious preparation. The working process, which Lee describes itself as ‘a performance,’ requires industrial cranes with a sizable group of crew members to erect poles and ropes in order to secure the canvas as if it were floating in air, all of which is removed from the final photograph. The resulting images, poetic and meditative, trigger a series of questions regarding representation, perception and our understanding of our environment.

This exhibition is part of a year-long series that is designed to provide contemporary perspectives on visual art in Asia from four different countries: Japan, Korea, Israel and Pakistan. Begun with Takashi Tomo-oka, the series addresses a variety of underlying conceptual issues and cultural questions, some of which may challenge viewers’ assumptions about Asian art. Make sure to check it out! ~CM


Atta Kim, ON-AIR Project 160-13, from the series India, 2007, Chromogenic print, Loaned by the artist

Myoung Ho Lee, Tree # 1, 2006, Ink on paper, Loaned by the artist


Object Rotations On The Way

May 23, 2013

Last week we unveiled the new Snukal Gallery, and today we’re excited to share more upcoming changes! Over the next few weeks, we’ll be rotating light-sensitive objects in several galleries, including the Gallery of Korean ArtThe Garden in Asia and The Art of Continuity: Revering our Elders. To ensure that our collection is preserved for generations to come, our curatorial staff carefully plans permanent and long-term exhibitions so that they can rotate textiles, paintings and other works on paper. In addition to conservation, this has the additional benefit of displaying a wider variety of our collection for our visitors. Check out these previous posts about these galleries, and make sure to visit your favorite paintings and textiles soon before the new ones are installed. ~CM

Rank BadgeConfucianism in the Gallery of Korean Art
This gallery includes a stunning 19th-century ink painting of grapevines, seen in the top image in this post. This and other paintings in the gallery will soon be replaced with thematically similar objects.




The Mustard Seed ManualThe Three Friends of Winter
Current exhibition The Garden in Asia includes a number of beautiful scroll paintings, including the plum tree branch pictured in this post. It also includes a number of paintings in book form– in those cases, curatorial staff will open the books to new pages.


Ancestor Painting

The Art of Continuity: Revering our Elders
This exhibition also includes a number of beautiful works on paper, including these colorful ancestor portraits. Also rotating are the portraits at the end of the exhibition provided by the community– you can even submit your own ancestor photographs to

Wedding Textiles in Asia

February 21, 2013

Korean wedding

Wedding traditions vary all over the world. On Sunday, March 10 from 12-2 p.m., learn more about the traditional Korean wedding ceremony at our afternoon of Korean culture, featuring a wedding reenactment and a traditional meal. Korean weddings are traditionally held at the bride’s family home, and includes a ceremony that involves the couple bowing to each other and sipping wine to seal their commitment. After, the couple will take part in another ceremony called pyebaek, in which the newlyweds bow toward the groom’s parents and offer symbolic gifts, such as jujubes or chestnuts (symbolizing children). At the end, the parents will toss the jujubes and chestnuts back at the bride. While traditionally this ceremony has been reserved for the parents of the groom, today couples are increasingly including the bride’s family as well.

In Korea, a marriage is such a special ceremony and celebration that common people could wear special attire for it that was exclusively worn in the palace, such as the ensemble worn by the woman above on the left. Garments like these were worn as everyday attire by a queen and as vestments by court ladies in the Joseon dynasty (1392-1910), but as wedding attire outside the palace. While some rented these suits from local administrators, some villages collectively owned outfits that villagers could share.

 slendangYou can also find ceremonial clothing on view now in the galleries! In the Orientation Gallery, the three textiles on view from South Asia and Indonesia demonstrate the shawl-like textiles commonly used in those regions, in contrast to the robe silhouettes commonly used in China, Japan and Korea. These textiles could also have ceremonial functions in addition to simply being worn; this Indonesian slendang (shoulder cloth) was likely draped across the shoulders of the bride and groom to symbolize their union. Additional Indonesian textiles are on view in the adjacent gallery featuring the exhibition Marking Transitions: Ceremonial Art in Indonesia, which we’ve written about before (hurry to see the show in person–it closes March 24!).


In our other exhibition Kimono in the 20th Century (also closing soon on March 10), you can find a tomosode, or a dark kimono characterized by family crest markings and yuzen (resist-dyeing) designs. These kimono were traditionally worn by brides until the 1930s, when the more elaborate uchikake  became popular. After that, the tomosode was more commonly worn by the bride’s mother or older sisters. To this day, the tomosode remains the most formal type of kimono.

Again, check out our upcoming program featuring a Korean wedding reenactment on our website here, and make sure to see Kimono in the 20th Century and Marking Transitions before they close! ~CM


Slendang (shoulder cloth), Indonesia, Palembang (south Sumatra province), 20th c., Silk and gold threads, Gift of Mrs. Eleanor McLain, 1993.71.1

Tomosode, Japan, 1930-5, Itome yuzen on chirimen, embroidery, couched gold wrapped threads, padded hem, crepe silk, lining, Gift of Mrs. Paul Hunter, 1981.3.2