‘Crossover’ Korean Calligraphy at CSUN

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Members of the community gathered Sept. 10 for a reception held at the Art Gallery, in the Art Design Center, for “Crossover,” a contemporary Korean Calligraphy exhibition.

The exhibit showcased 60 pieces of original artwork by three Korean artists. The artwork was primarily created for the exhibit itself.

“The purpose of the exhibit was to expose Korean language, Hangeul, to help people understand it,” said Dave Moon, chair of the Art Department.

The exhibition was partly funded by the Korean Cultural Center in Los Angeles.

In addition to community members, President Jolene Koester, Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Harold Hellenbrand were also present.

Moon, Jina Wakimoto, a former CSUN librarian, brought the idea for the show to Louise Lewis, director of the CSUN Art Gallery, two years ago. The idea started to become a reality six months ago.

“It sounded like an excellent idea and a good proposal,” Lewis said. “I encouraged them to do it and to keep me posted.”

The works of Kim Soo-Hyoung, known as “Manhodang,” Kim Sun-Wuk, known as “Hanong,” and Choi In-Young were on display. Each of the artists offered something different to the exhibition.

Manhodang has been teaching Korean calligraphy for more than 25 years and is now living and teaching in Bethesda, Maryland, and works with grass script in traditional calligraphy.

Hanong was a disciple to calligraphy Master Cholnong, Keewoo Lee and has participated in various solo and group exhibitions throughout the world and now resides in Huntington Beach.

In-Young breaks down Hangeul, the native alphabet to write Korean language, into geometric symbols that still make the art easy to comprehend. He teaches and resides in Korea.

Manhodang and Hanong both attended the exhibition, while In-Young was not present due to his teaching responsibilities overseas.

Manhodang and Hanong mingled with guests and took pictures next to some of their pieces during the reception.

In pieces like “Layers” and “Birds II” by Hanong, “Chinese Phrase” by Manhodang, and “Pyung-wha” (peace) by In-Young, one can see how each artist is different, but also alike in the way they keep in line of traditional calligraphy. The art differs in the colors they choose, whether it is subtle or bold, and the materials they use.

Juliann Wolfgram, an expert in Asian art, stated in a catalog about the exhibit that text becomes less important, while the movement of the brush, the patterns of ink and the sense of dance in the lines and spaces become dominant.

“It’s amazing the range of expression that calligraphy takes,” Lewis said.

Additionally, dancers from the Jung Im Lee Korean Dance Academy performed at the reception. Five girls dazzled the audience with two performances. The first was a fan dance where they wore magenta dresses with bright green vests adorned with gold symbols and carried brightly colored fans. The second dance was a sword dance – a traditional Korean Dance – where all the girls wore soldiers’ uniforms, which was a dress-like garment with a vest and hat.

During the reception, Young Jae Jun, director of the Korean Cultural Center, spoke to the audience and expressed his excitement for the event.

“This is a nice opportunity for our younger generations to see Korean calligraphy,” Chung said.

It was a nice opportunity for all who came to the event, Moon said.

According to a printed statement that accompanied Hanong’s art pieces, “Art is a form to express artists’ life and philosophy. I’d like to figure out a section of human life with calligraphy, which is believed to be one of the ways to achieve it.”

The “Crossover” exhibit will be on display at the CSUN Art Gallery until Oct. 1. Then, the works of Manhodang will be brought to Rhode Island and the works of Hanong to Irvine for solo shows.

Candice Mitchell can be reached at ane@sundial.csun.edu