How we exhibit. The freedom of releasing what you make; finding family; holding peace.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
—Mary Oliver, “Wild Geese.” Excerpt.
Everything is a part of a continuum, and holding this truth close can lead to a powerful freedom. Making art, connecting through it, being bleached and made into ash and wrung dry by it until I’m not what I was, is when I’m able to feel this freedom most keenly.
This show has been in the works for most of the year. All of the artists, many of us with second jobs, and kids, worked around the clock and to the last minute. This weekend, we converged from all corners and middles of the U.S., strange pilgrims meeting for the first time in person.
The show was a vibrant affair, full of high energy and joy.
We had to raise capacity twice. Hundreds of people came despite the at-times torrential rain, some with toddlers in tow. There were folks of all ages, backgrounds, and affiliations. A curator from the White House was in attendance. Phenomenal but simple food, carefully designed, portioned, and abundant, was provided by Magpie & the Tiger (they travel; I highly recommend them for event catering).
Early in the evening, the space was already filling up (see my IG Han highlight for more moments and context):
A selection of works from the show:
My 6 minute film, 엄마 나라 | MOTHER LAND, played on loop on a 50” mounted screen with a wired headset. A QR code on the title card led to my artist statement.
I was struck by how much children seemed to be drawn to the installation—in retrospect, I guess it’s not surprising given moving image on a screen, with animations. Children are so sensitive; I was curious if they sensed any of the underlying darkness, or if they simply experienced the film as novelty. I didn’t approach any of them to ask (I’m not sure what question I would have posed), so I’ll likely never know.
I had a chance to introduce Nikki Pisha, Associate Curator of Fine Arts at the White House, and her husband, to the film:
By the way: we’re finalists for the Gold Futures Challenge—a grant that could help us secure up to $100k for our Collective. It would be a game-changer, helping us do more projects like this, and support even more artists. Please take one minute to vote for us as one of the three featured non-profits 🙏
Afterward, we went back to our Airbnb, ordered pizza, danced, drank, and told stories.
Fewer than 24 hours later, two other New Yorkers and I drove back home. Our time in DC had passed quickly, but it had also felt rich, and unhurried.
The members of this collective, whom I’ve only known through Discord and Zoom for the better part of the year, have somehow become family.
We’re all quite different. Some of us are in our forties, others in our twenties or thirties; some of us are parents, many aren’t; there are scholars, educators, designers, full-time artists, yogis; cat people, dog people, loners, divorcées. We span the economic spectrum. Some of us are in the Smithsonian, some of us are beginning our practice as artists. Some are boisterous, others quiet.
Yet there was not a single person who did not get along with another. I felt a thread running through us; inextricably connecting and binding.
The fact that we were able to put on an exhibit like this, expressing what han means to each of us, different yet same—has been a profound experience.
Art is one of the few things that makes me see humanity as something that should continue.
Long live art.
TLB Members, view the exhibit cut of my film for a limited time, below.
Everyone else, stay tuned for the first of a two-part retro in coming weeks.
Until next time.