Korean Cultural Center Gallery

Edification value
Entertainment value
Should you go?
Time spent 19 minutes
Best thing I saw or learned A set of embroidered Bodhisattvas and Buddhas,  inspired by statues in a particular grotto. Spectacular and almost three-dimensional even though they’re flat pieces of textile

Yesterday was both International Women’s Day and the start of Asia week and so it was appropriate (though if I’m being honest, unplanned) that I celebrated by going to the Korean Cultural Center to see a small show on the life and art of Young Yang Chung, a contemporary female Korean embroiderer.

The Korean Cultural Center has a small space for art tucked away on the eighth floor of an anonymous office building on Park Avenue in Midtown. Still, it’s well appointed and well lit and good for a small-scale show like this one.

It was interesting to me that Dr. Young does both very contemporary-looking pieces and much more traditional ones as well. Her large screens with deer and flowers and fish and such are impressive technically and in terms of the time it must’ve taken to make them.  But I was much more partial to her more experimental, contemporary pieces. In addition to the Buddhas I mention as the “best thing I saw,” the show included a series on Venice that consisted of pieced fabric and quilting and embroidery that were just beautiful, and a fairly adorable frog based on a Japanese woodblock print by Kitagawa Utamaro.

The larger point of the show is that embroidery was always considered “women’s work” and not really “art,” and people like Dr. Young have done much to show that there’s high aesthetic and artistic value in it, and it shouldn’t be overlooked.  It’s a good example that you don’t need a big show, or a large exhibition space, to say something interesting and important.

Should you go?  I liked the space.  If “The Movement of Herstory” is a good example of how well they curate it, I’d definitely recommend checking out future shows there.

Reference:  The Korean Cultural Center