Korean Artist Seongmin Ahn Explores Asian Ritual Through Mono.logue: Works on Paper

Exhibition Dates: Thursday, November 3 – Friday, December 23, 2005

Where: The Queens College Art Center
6th floor, Benjamin S. Rosenthal Library
Queens College
65-30 Kissena Boulevard, Flushing, NY

Gallery Talk and Reception: Thursday, November 3, 2005, 5 – 6 pm
Reception, 6 – 8 pm

Gallery Hours: Mondays – Thursdays, 9 am – 8 pm
Fridays, 9 am – 5 pm
Closed weekends and holidays; closed November 24 & 25

Gallery Contacts: For more info: (718) 997-3770

Fee: Free and open to the public

FLUSHING, NY, October 31, 2005 – Mono.logue, an exhibition of works on paper by Seongmin Ahn, a Korean-born, New York-based artist, will be on view at the Queens College Art Center beginning Thursday, November 3. On that day, the public is invited to a free gallery talk by the artist from 5 to 6 pm. A reception will follow to 8 pm. This exhibition is co-sponsored by the Asian/American Center at Queens College.

Mono.logue presents abstract, paper-based works drawn from intensely personal experiences of an artist whose life and work are grounded in the meeting of the East and West. Ahn’s working processes, which she likens to philosophical deliberation and Buddhist religious rituals, produce visual counterparts to her struggle with chronic pain.

In her Meditation series, Ahn folds rice paper into orderly geometric patterns, which mimic the rhythm of each breath during meditation; she then dyes the creased paper by repeatedly spraying or dipping it in blue water or black sumi ink. In Weaving Pain, Ahn weaves strips of burnt mulberry paper dyed with Asian herbs, which she has used as medicine. In Untitled, she burns holes repetitively with incense stick, the number of holes referencing Buddhist beliefs.

Through these meditative processes, Ahn creates delicate, shadowy drawings and installations with a strong sculptural presence. Restrained, cerebral and elegant, they simultaneously evoke the esthetic and thinking of traditional Asian art and refer to post-World War II American abstract movements such as color field painting and minimalism. The works transform space, suggest calm, invite contemplation, and search for spiritual purity.

Ahn moved to the United States from Korea in the late 1990s. Soon afterwards, she contracted a chronic illness that baffled doctors. To alleviate her symptoms, she turned to meditation exercises, which proved critical to her physical and psychological recovery and eventually helped her transcend pain. Her meditative working process became as important as the art itself. As Ahn explains:

My works begin with my struggle with the physical pain – how to accept it as a part of my life, how to take advantage of it and how to transform those facts into a beauty of life. My experience with pain has given me time to look at myself inside and search for inner value. My tool is philosophical deliberation and various ways of ritual practice.

My repetitive working process is akin to religious rituals and serves as a visual documentation of enduring moments of my life with chronic pain. Through the process of folding papers, weaving them or burning holes with incense repetitively, I transform the enduring nature of pain into objects of contemplation and beauty. Also, engaged with physical labor I am aware of my existence, and try to imagine what underlies spirituality. I experience a state of Zen in a way of working.

Ahn is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art (MFA 2001) and the Seoul National University (MFA, BFA). Her work has been exhibited throughout the United States and abroad and shown in solo exhibitions in New York City, Baltimore, and Seoul, Korea. Ahn’s art also has been acquired for several public and corporate collections. The recipient of prestigious awards and residencies, including a Pollock-Krasner Foundation grant, Ahn recently lectured at the Washington Arts Center in Arlington, Virginia, and at the Asian American Art Center at the Korea Society in New York.

Photographs, biographical and sales information are available upon request.

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Contact: Phyllis Cohen Stevens
Deputy Director of News Services
(718) 997-5597

Maria Matteo
News Assistant
(718) 997-5593
maria.matteo @qc.cuny.edu