Upon arriving at The Muckenthaler Cultural Center, the grounds were secluded. Those who traverse up the hill towards the entrance are greeted by a sign announcing the exhibition: Nestle Into Nature: Movements Seeking Balance.
The gallery is the Muck’s first in-person art exhibit since the gallery’s closure in March.
According to Ana Cottle, the Communications Director at The Muckenthaler Cultural Center, the gallery is allowed to operate at 25% capacity, however, their reservation system errors on the side of caution, allowing parties containing no more than four people to enter at once.
Koojah Kim is in her late 70s, yet she worked for ten hours a day for months to create her otherworldly landscapes entitled, “Cosmic Fantasia.”
“The Greek philosopher Pythagoras is known as a mathematician, but thousands of years ago, artists, mathematicians, and musicians all worked together,” Kim said when asked about her inspirations. “These Greek philosophers looked to the stars and saw harmony in the spheres.”
Her inspirations were drawn from space, yet the materials she used came from the forgotten corners of Earth, in junk stores, and even Home Depot. A good wash in boiling water cleans her materials well enough to join her thousand dollar artworks.
Kim was not the only artist that took inspiration from the past. Young Shin, a renowned ceramics artist specializes in the ancient, traditional Korean art of Buncheong, a 500-year-old technique that uses a dark iron-rich clay under a white slip.
“It represents the Korean artistic spirit,” said Young Shin, referring to the simple, universal, and fundamental forms of her work. “I try to rediscover and reinterpret traditional Korean techniques.”
The end result of her work is are bowls and vases whos color mimics the natural tones of river-washed pebbles. Inside her bowls are words like “hope” and “peace.” Floating above is a colorful mix of English and Korean characters with a few hearts and other symbols placed in the middle.
Young Shin said her work is meant to visualize the way words often hang in the air, a message that is especially meaningful in a time where the vibrations of speech are muffled by masks and fade through distance.
The exhibition featured six other artists, all living in the United States after being born in Korea.
The spacious gallery lent to the still, peaceful tone the artwork carried. Viewers will have more than enough room to stop and admire each piece, free from the distractions of other people.
In a way, the gallery represents the other side of quarantine, one that allows for peaceful reflection and bliss.