Motherhood has long been a rich source of artistic inspiration, which is no surprise given the deep mother-child bonds which begin long before birth and continue for eternity.
“Mother, My First Love” at Jeju Museum of Art features a series of work with “mother” as the central muse.
The participating artists depict mothers and motherhood from their perspectives as children, mothers, or both.
The compilation is wide-ranging in medium and style but strings together a comprehensive story of motherhood. It includes bright, playful pieces reminiscent of the mother-child relationship, as well as powerful representations of mothers outside of direct mother-child relations.
In the first room, artists explore the direct relationship between mother and child.
A large installation by artist Yun Suknam titled ‘White Room- Mother’s Garden’ recalls her own mother raising children under difficult circumstances. Both the mother and children appear explicitly in her work.
▲ Photo by Veronica Spann
Likewise, the paintings of Kim Buja emphasize the inner emotions within this mother-child relationship with bold and brightly colored abstract images of mother with child.
As the exhibition progresses, the artists begin to explore motherhood outside of direct interactions with the child.
Jung Jungyeob lets the energy of women, beyond motherhood, infuse her paintings. She uses objects touched by women’s labor such as mung beans and peas to convey a mother’s daily-life beyond her relationship with her child.
This greater theme of mothers independent of their children is continued by Yoon Jongeok whose bold but intricate work uses syringe dots on canvas to create detailed images representing the difficulties of motherhood.
A series of thought-provoking paintings and video and sculpture installations carry you around the exhibit to the final room.
The final room stands out in that rather than representing individual mothers, likely those of the artists, there are two installations which portray a more collective mother.
The first is a mixed media photographic and sculpture installation dedicated to the haenyo mothers of Jeju. This piece depicts the mother, a local diving woman, alone and without her child as a strong worker and provider.
▲ Photo by Veronica Spann
The second installation, by Cho Duckhyun, stood out among all in the exhibition. Cho brings mother and child together again through a collection of portrait photographs of Jeju mothers and their daughters.
The images are printed on silk cloth and expressed as a solid hologram using LED illumination.
This piece successfully brings together all of the previous artists’ diverse representations of ‘mother’ into one comprehensive display of motherhood.
Cho’s holistic image thus brings together the diverse and changeable roles, relationships and perceptions of mothers and motherhood. The image, like the hologram it is, displays significant depth and relative obscurity.
“Mother, My First Love” moves beyond exploration of the explicit roles of mothers as caregivers into the more implicit roles of mothers as creators, providers, healers, role models, and women.
While some of the work portrays the mother as a nurturer and other pieces display the mother independent from her kin, the combined work of these artists comes together to give a diverse, but collective representation of motherhood in which everyone is able to find affinity.
“Mother, My First Love” runs until March 20
Jeju Museum of Art
2894-78 1100-ro, Jeju City
9 a.m. - 6 p.m.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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