Surface / Tension: Julie Wolfe and Gi-ok Jeon

Posted on 27.01.2009

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Surface /Tension was shown at the Mu Project Gallery in Georgetown (Washington, DC) Sept 27-Nov 13, 2008.

<<< Untitled, 2008 / Gi-ok Jeon

I first became interested in going to see this show after a friend emailed me the image on the left and asked for my honest opinion of the work. My initial reaction was a very emphatic ‘eh’, so I decided to do the research.

As I always say, the web NEVER does art any real justice. This image is a shining example of why: at first glance, it appears that this is an inked page with some circles drawn on it with marker or colored pencil. That’s not the case at all. Well, partially: there is ink… Chinese ink. On rice paper. But those little colored pinwheels? They are sewn. Needlework. Lovely in person.

When I went to the gallery, I had the pleasure of talking with a very nice attendant whom I believe identified herself as an intern. She told me about her meeting with the artist, and what she had gleaned from conversations that had taken place in the gallery.

A bit of information that adds a LOT more depth to the work of Jeon: apparently, each little pinwheel is made with a specific person in mind. People from her life. This idea can be seen in a more easily recognizable way in another piece, also Untitled, which features a blue and yellow-painted page and small figures dotting the map-like landscape.

She also focuses a lot of her work around feeling safe and recognizing her own identity in a very different culture than her own.

The work deserves to be seen, read about and discussed. There is so much thought in it.

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<<< In Remembrance, 2008 / Julie Wolfe

I had no idea walking into the Gallery of what to expect from Julie Wolfe, as the Mu Project Gallery‘s website didn’t have a slide show, just thumbnails. Julie Wolfe is pretty elusive online, it’s hard to find many examples of her work.

Needless to say, the piece to the right stole my heart. I know that I have very specific tastes when it comes to mixed-media, so I am speaking with a possible bias when I tell you that this work is gorgeous. My photos can’t convey the amount of depth in this image, and the smaller items she had in the gallery were all but lost on my digital camera.

Done in oil and graphite on wood panels, there is a huge amount of depth visible from a distance. As you approach the pieces, it is almost like putting on 3-D glasses. More layers just come into focus the closer you are.

Another of the large pieces, #1 (I didn’t write down the name) looked a lot like In Remembrance above, but was much more simple and minimally handled. It had a lovely asymmetric symmetry, if you get what I mean.

There was also a great 3×3 showing of smaller pieces on display, #2-#10, and they made for a very strong composition. Individually they weren’t as complete… if one were so inclined, they would have to display at least 3 of these in a space in order to make an impact. #2-#4 were my favorite in this grouping, because #3 and #4 were balanced by the simplicity of #2.

Definitely see her work in person, if you can.

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Posted in: art