Korean arts event held at SDMA steps

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An event held alongside a special exhibition on Korean art at SDMA

The San Diego Museum of Art (SDMA) held an event, “Korea in Color: On the Steps,” on Feb. 3 at the museum steps for the special exhibit “Korea in Color: A Legacy of Auspicious Images,” which will run through March 3.

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Visitors look at “Fierce Tiger Woke Up” by Byeoksa. (Photos by Kyungmin Min)

The exhibition was organized by the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA) in Korea. SDMA brought the works of 28 contemporary artists to San Diego, along with five masterpieces from the 19th and early 20th centuries. Visitors can appreciate colorful polychrome paintings (“chaesaekhwa” in Korean) from old and new artists depicting four different themes.


During the event, the open square in front of the museum was filled with people watching performers and engaging in cultural activities. SDMA, the Korean Culture Center Los Angeles, and House of Korea (Hok) provided cultural experiences related to Korean art next to the museum building. NK Dance Studio, Rule Breaka, and other K-Pop groups performed on the steps of the museum with a large crowd cheering.

“My daughter fell in love with flowers and Korean colors after seeing the exhibition. She said she wanted to draw like the paintings she saw. We were sitting in front of the flower paintings for a long time,” said Grace Kim, a tourist from LA. Kim’s five-year-old daughter was painting a coloring page with flowers on it at the HoK booth.

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One activity was to write names in Hangeul.

HoK offered several activities at their booth, such as mask-crafting based on Korean folktales, writing names in Hangeul (Korean alphabet), and more.

“Many people say it’s cool to see their names in Hangeul,” said Grace Lee from HoK.

Artists from Korea also participated in the event to showcase their works. Yaritza Irizarry, who is from Florida, was buying a pack of postcards with Korean art on them. She came to San Diego to visit her daughter and found out about the event by chance while she was taking a walk in the park. It was her first time experiencing Korean art. “It’s beautiful and unique. It’s just different. I love the colors,” she said. The merchandise Irizarry bought was the work of Young Mi Park, a traditional Korean calligrapher and artist.

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Young Mi Park displayed art merchandise in the Korean cultural fair.

“I majored in Korean painting. These are samples of polychrome paintings, brush calligraphy, and more. I’m selling notebooks and postcards with my paintings,” said Park. “I’m very grateful for promoting Korea. I hope there will be more events like this to spread our culture. It’s a culture that becomes more appreciated the more you see it.”

SDMA also supplied visitors with materials and instructions to craft a shadow box based on 10 symbols of longevity found in the artworks in the exhibition. The project aimed to form a closer connection with the artworks for visitors by giving them a better sense through crafting it themselves.

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Young Mi Park shares their work with visitors to Balboa Park.

“We’re happy to offer this free programming and art-making process to the community. It’s exciting to connect those two (people and artworks) and then talk with people about how they found this project or how they’re reflecting on their own lives,” said Cara Dealy, a Community Engagement Educator at SDMA.


The exhibition highlights various kinds of art, from old-time paintings to contemporary styles. San Diego Community Newspaper Group revealed behind-the-scenes details of the exhibition with Rachel Jans, an Associate Curator of Modern & Contemporary Art at SDMA.

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Visitors look at works near the end of the eshibit.

Key points to consider at the exhibition

Throughout the exhibition, you will notice the way artists working today continue to engage with symbols, colors, and even artistic techniques that have circulated throughout Korean culture for centuries and are still a part of the everyday visual vocabulary of Korean culture. At the same time, you can see the way many artists are experimenting with new media, creating new meanings by revisiting foundational genres and symbols, and expanding the scale of works to astounding new dimensions.

Increasing interest in Korean art throughout the U.S.

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Curator Rachel Jans

There have been a remarkable number of exhibitions dedicated to Korean art in the U.S. this year. Many of these exhibitions have been in the works for years and are an exciting sign of new scholarship and, in some cases, fresh perspectives from a new generation of curators.

*Writer’s addition: There have been several special exhibitions themed around Korean art across the nation, such as at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Philadelphia Museum of Art, etc. Read more from Kyungmin Min on the exhibit at https://sdnews.com/k-girl-in-sd-korea-in-color-phenomenal-exhibitions-happening-in-san-diego/.

What SDMA aspires to achieve is…

SDMA is committed to sharing global perspectives through artworks from around the world. We are thrilled to offer visitors from near and far the opportunity to enjoy, experience and learn from these extraordinary works of art.

For more information and tickets, visit Korea in Color: A Legacy of Auspicious Images. Visit during Museum Month for half off admission.

Partners: TOPNEws.MEDIA UKRAINE, USA,  Canada, United Kingdom, France, Asia.

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