Jiyoung Chung, Whisper: Seeds (2021), joomchi paper sculpture, 9 x 9 in. Image courtesy of ArtXchange Gallery

Jiyoung Chung’s latest solo exhibition at ArtXchange Gallery, Between & Within, showcases a rich collection of new work that reinterprets the traditional craft of joomchi, the Korean tradition of making hand felted hanji (mulberry) paper by hand, as a vessel of exploration between nature and humankind, and the complex nuances that exist within those relationships.  

The impressive works on display range from small 8 x 6-inch pieces, to large 68 x 30-inch wall hung tapestries – featuring surfaces that are vastly textural, almost sculptural even. From little, undulating hills, to taut, tension-riddled threads, and delicate, airy overlays – these dimensional works showcase both Chung’s ability to manipulate the mulberry paper, and the expansive potential this material has. Her laborious process of transforming the material with eager hands, determination, and patience yields beautifully delicate, yet sturdy creations. Float-mounted on the white gallery walls, the larger pieces cast mysteriously playful shadows that gently flutter as you walk past  – like a net, cast out with its many layers in hopes of collecting stories and conversations in its reach.  

Jiyoung Chung, New Perspective (2020), joomchi paper with mixed media, 37 x 30 in. Image courtesy of ArtXchange Gallery

The depth created within each piece invites the viewer in to examine what other dimensions lie ahead – a microcosm of diverse textures, layers, and patterns that are like worlds within themselves. These diverse landscapes are reminiscent of the changing seasons, from rich autumn reds and oranges, to cold winter whites and cool freshwater blue. Each work Chung produces is like a visual narrative rooted in a specific time and place, a tactile poem filled with curiosity and wonder. 

The eye dances from one corner to the other – trying to make sense of the layers upon layers of material that’s been meticulously worked on, and the tension between being contained and being expansive. Chung’s work is a choreography of opposites – vibrant and muted, fragile and strong, bold and elegant. While some pieces emit a dense, slumbering spirit, others encompass a more engaging energy. But, through these opposing features, connections can be found and nurtured. The works visually express a gamut of emotions –strength in holding on, resilience in maintaining connections, the sadness of feeling empty, and the acknowledgment of gaps and spaces that need to be built back up again. 

Chung’s contemporary approach to joomchi has elevated the material and craft in new and exciting ways, and this series demonstrates the wide range that it possesses.  

Between & Within: New Works by Jiyoung Chung is currently on display until November 20th at ArtXchange Gallery, located at 512 1st Avenue S, Seattle, WA, 98104. For more information, visit www.artxchange.org or call 206-839-0377. 

Jiyoung Chung, Enriched (2019), joomchi paper with mixed media, 68 x 30 in.

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