Merging Cultures in Art: Jiha Moon’s “Familiar Faces”

Photo by Matt Hembree (C’20).

Alicia Wikner
Executive Staff

Jiha Moon’s art installation “Familiar Faces” explores the merging of cultural identities and global symbols together in a fascinating blend of the West and the East. Born in South Korea in 1973, Moon received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from Korea University, and her Master of Fine Arts in Western Painting from Ehwa Womans University in Seoul, South Korea. She now teaches and paints full-time in Atlanta, Georgia, and then presents her artwork all across the nation.

Entering the exhibit the University Art Gallery, a quote greets the visitors: “The world is so interconnected nowadays, how can one even tell where someone or something ‘comes from’ anymore?” This quote sets the stage for the rest of the experience, inviting the viewer to question their own experience in such an increasingly globalized world.

“Everywhere in this country, all over the place, people are making art,” Moon said, adding that she sometimes felt like she “[has] a leg in between different places.”

She is traditionally trained as a Western painter, using oil and canvas, but shifted mediums because of a lack of materials and resources. Now, working with mixed mediums, Moon brings with her both paintings and ceramic works, norigae (a traditional Korean accessory) and cyanotype, mimicking the variety of her subjects.

She finds inspiration in folk art from all across the world, as well as modern symbols of the artistic medium. Disney’s classic Snow White is reimagined in blue ink, surrounded by smiley-face emoticons and women in traditional Korean garb. Folklore and pop culture unite in her pieces to examine the current intertwined, international society.

Her other art exhibits mirror the same global themes: “Souvenir Valise,” “Foreign Love Too,” and “American Appendage.” And, in addition to her exhibits, Moon has a catalogue that features “over 50 works,” according to her website, and showcases “the rich cultural context in which [Moon] works.”