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Common Ground image

Common Ground

The Korean Cultural Center Washington, D.C. proudly presents Common Ground, a group exhibition featuring eight Washington, D.C.-area artists inspired by a study of the vibrant world of Korean modern and contemporary art. Each artist will introduce their work in person at the opening reception event on Friday, March 6 starting at 6:30 p.m.

Drawing upon individual intentions and approaches, the artists use their own visual vocabularies while also gathering to develop and share knowledge of an aesthetic common ground: Korean contemporary art. The challenge of developing this metaphorical connection led to a particular group bond and a fruitful artistic exploration.

According to the artists, a sense of meaning in art is always influenced by cultural and historical context; in Korea as well as the United States, artistic tradition has been seen as a dead weight or a living treasure, depending on the era. Traditional painting, for example, was once declared dead but has been resurrected in the international cultural conversation in recent years. In our multivalent age we all have access to a vast, virtual common ground, providing fertile ground for new connections. For this group of artists, painting is reinvigorated and remains vital as a means of looking outward as well as inward. Common Ground presents what we see in our visually complex time.

Common Ground

WHAT: Group exhibition, opening reception, talk by the artists
WHORosabel Goodman-Everard, Sheldon Holen, Miriam Keeler, Jean Kim, Laura Litten, Kiki McGrath, Starke Meyer, Judy Southerland
WHENOpening Reception: Friday, March 6 @ 6:30 pm (Exhibition Dates: March 6 – 25)
WHERE: Korean Cultural Center Washington, D.C. (2370 Massachusetts Ave. NW)
HOW: Scroll down to RSVP for the opening reception (no RSVP required during regular hours).

Artist Statements

Rosabel Goodman-Everard

One day the water stopped flowing. The blooming trees on the riverbed withered and died and the creatures living in and among them disappeared. Stark shapes were all that remained. The only solution was to work with them. It remained dry and dark for a long time. Then the water returned. What seemed like a limitation of my freedom became a world of its own. First there was color, mark, and texture to explore. Then the tree trunk became a tapestry for narrative, for I am drawn to the narrative. Yet together, these shapes have a different effect: a single image may be modest, while grouping them makes new vibrations and rhythms emerge. I am thankful to the tree. Visit www.rosabelgoodman.com

Sheldon Holen

My concepts of composition developed from the monocular vision of a viewfinder in a camera. Composing with two eyes is different. Painting starts with the action of the arm which fuels a reaction, just as we respond to the sounds and rhythms of music with a feeling of movement. In that sense I am an “action/reaction” painter. This means the image is not simply laid down and then enhanced or corrected. Every day is a fresh start on top of the last work. At times I bury some of the best first impressions but the search for something more, something richer and perhaps more truthful, is worth the risk.

Miriam Keeler

Pride, Greed, Envy, Anger, Lust, Gluttony and Sloth—the Seven Deadly Sins have been a favorite subject for artists as far back as the Middle Ages. Are these “sins” still relevant for contemporary image making? I decided to find out by launching a series of seven paintings on the subject. In each painting figures and actions are depicted in a flat, simplified manner, as they might have been in medieval times. Geometric compositional devices, such as the stratified bands of color often used by European medieval artists, organize the complex, allegorical images. Can we afford to live with these “sins” today? On the other hand, can we afford to live without them in a largely secular, consumer driven, free enterprise society?

Jean Kim

My work is a reflection of the harmonizing of contradictory elements. After moving to the United States from South Korea, a clash of cultures dominated my life. Eventually, this cultural confrontation became less acute and grew into a diversely enriched, harmonious existence. My experiences have sharpened my mind and eyes to seek out elements of unity and harmony. I like to play on topics such as natural vs. synthetic or literal vs. imaginary. As a painter, I use mundane objects and materials to complement my canvases to inspire ideas of continuity that may not have arisen initially. Other artists, particularly Yang Haegue and Suh Do Ho, have influenced and inspired me to use unconventional materials and to push my conceptual boundaries. 

Laura Litten

In cinema, the western storyboard frames a juxtaposition of narrative and form: the horizontal landscape carries my passion for openness in the American Midwestern prairies and propels a story arrested by vertical images, not unlike the editing of film and television. The memory of Paik Nam June’s ironic humor animates my work. The scrolls playfully come to terms with common themes and contradictions in the way East and West conceptualize and reify history. Imagery from the American heartland (fields of corn and wagon trains) painted in vertical forms, and imagery from traditional Asian art fuse with the contemporary idiom of abstract painting, channeling a story that speaks in an evolving visual dialect to our shared moment. Visit www.lauralitten.com

Kiki McGrath

An American businessman runs off with a tea lady: an old story and a fresh wound reverberate throughout a small foreign community. This body of work is an exploration of the emotional fallout, a mining of the sensory experiences of fragility, betrayal and the fragmentary nature of memory. Visit www.kikimcgrath.com.

Starke Meyer

Using abstract shapes, a myriad of colors, and experimental materials, I intuitively produce images that privilege high contrast, movement, and the modern. The possibilities for new visual discoveries are endless, and exploration of various themes keeps me moving forward. Since the 1960s I have been professionally involved with the lively modern art scene in New York and Washington where I met and worked with some well-known artists of the era. Inspired by them, I began to paint. It has been a challenging adventure, leading to unexpected results and pleasures.

Judy Southerland

The art historical heritage for painted portraits is well known and my use of oval shapes is drawn from that legacy. For this space I have installed a version of Conveyors and Outliers. A collection of people brought together by circumstance surrounds us as we grow. Luckily or not, knowing it or not, they prepare us to go out and find our way. We all have these someones. Their messages, observed and absorbed, provide the springboard for this project. Wanting to see as much as possible, I can be neither for nor against any method or material. Demanding a certain stance and respect, each choice allows the conventional and familiar to bump up against new, often perplexing possibilities.Visit www.judysoutherland.com.