Imi Hwangbo, a professor in the Lamar Dodd School of Art, currently has a show on view at the Pavel Zoubok Gallery on West 26th Street in New York City. Ridley Howard, a painter in New York, is an alumnus of the Lamar Dodd School of Art, interviewed Hwango for the Arts Page of the Huffington Post. "Portals: Interview with Imi Hwangbo" by Ridley Howard is a fascinating discussion of her three-dimensional drawings in cut paper.
RH: Some works in this New York show are based on traditional Korean wrapping cloths. Can you talk about how you became interested in that as a subject?
IH: I've always been attracted to the aesthetics of traditional Korean decorative art. Pojagi are functional, four-cornered cloths that are tied in bundles to carry domestic objects. As artworks, they are embroidered drawings on fabric. They are often decorated with patterns and imagery that convey Korean folk beliefs, with plants and animals that offer protection from harm, and express desires for wealth, longevity and fertility.
I wanted to work from these patterns, and stay faithful to the notion of a decorative object that is alluring to the eye and highly crafted over its entire surface. I also like the notion of decoration as a visualization of desire -- as a gesture that covers a surface, repetitively and obsessively, with an iconography of desire.
RH: From what little research I've done, certain eras of Pojagi almost look like op-art and early modernist painting. Do you see your work as a means of subversion? Or is it more reverential?
IH: Pojagi patterns can have specific meanings within that particular cultural tradition. But at the same time, they can embody strategies that are recognizable in modernist painting. I like the notion of women artists in traditional Korea, inventing a modernist aesthetic with scraps of fabric. Their names are lost to history, so their identities can only be guessed through their inventiveness and craft. I'm drawn to the contradiction of that anonymity and the intimacy of the handwork. So perhaps you could consider it an homage.
Read the full interview. Great job, Howard and Hwangbo.
Image: Diviner (detail), 66" x 28" x 3", archival ink on hand-cut mylar, 2010