Julia Kwon

July 7–30, 2017

Like Any Other

Julia Kwon’s work comments on gender and ethnicity. It explores different ways for creating ruptures on Korean patterns.She activates the paintings in relation to the stretcher bars, which become metaphors for framing and societal expectations for the authentic. She also creates figures inside enlarged Korean object-wrapping cloth and lucky pouch to express the embodied experience and both the seriousness and ridiculousness of objectification. However, the fabrics are not only covering, blocking and suffocating, but also protecting, hiding, and mystifying the body.

The textiles Kwon creates symbolize constructed notions of what it means to be Korean. Her work is not simply a representation of minority identities, but rather a commentary on the dehumanizing, problematic process of being identified, reduced and categorized. By employing object-wrapping cloth that was historically a creative outlet for Korean women who had limited contact with the outside world, she considers ideas such as tradition, labor, craft, and “feminine” work. Furthermore, the human-scale box painting that combines traditional Korean textile with contemporary, global logos considers both the past and the present to further investigate the idea of authenticity as well as cultural hybridity and transnationalism.

By meticulously creating Korean textiles through painting and sewing, Kwon cherishes her cultural background. However, through imposing various disruptions and overburdening the textiles with “ethnic” patterns, she not only conveys her experience of being objectified and judged superficially, but also exposes and undercuts the very preconceptions others may have based on her gender and ethnicity.

Julia Kwon was born in Northern Virginia and earned her M.F.A. at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts/Tufts University and her B.A. in Studio Art at Georgetown University. She has been actively exhibiting her work and won various awards such as the artist residency at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, Vermont Studio Center, Textile Arts Center, and Gallery 263.