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Cosponsored with the Korean Community Center

Opening Reception at Gallery Bergen – September 12, 2019, 6:00 p.m.
Exhibition runs from September 12 – October 31
Gallery Hours: M – F, 11:00 am to 5 pm and by appointment

nicole maloof young joon kwak sun you namjoo kim dong kyu kim paul lim hobong kim
chung kim the hanbok so yoon lym hahn byol chang kumjoo ahn myoung ja lee
taesook jung stephanie lee

Gallery Bergen, the art exhibition space of Bergen Community College in collaboration with the Korean Community Center of Tenafly announces the opening of NJSeoul: New Art from the Korean Diaspora to be displayed between September 12 and October 31, 2019. Works by fifteen artists of Korean descent will be displayed including drawings, paintings, photography, prints, contemporary furniture, installation, ephemeral botanical sculpture, and experimental video. NJSeoul is curated by Gallery Bergen Director Tim Blunk and Hyejeong Grenier.

All of the US’s top ten municipalities by percentage of Korean population as per the 2010 Census are located within Bergen County. This exhibition examines the immigrant experience of Koreans living here – including Koreans who think of themselves as Americans, first and foremost, those who have a foothold in both countries, and those who have chosen or may soon choose to return permanently to Korea.

This exhibition also seeks to address how Korean culture has transformed New York/New Jersey/Bergen County while overturning many stereotypes about Korean people and their lives. Most prominent among the artists in this exhibition is Joon Young Kwak, a queer transgender artist who grew up in Englewood Cliffs and resides in Los Angeles. The artist writes about her work: “As a queer trans Korean-American, I’ve often had to deal peoples’ commonly misconceived notions of gender, sexuality, race, and beauty. I was inspired to create “Excreted Venus” to imagine a new icon for consumption and identification, thinking–what if the exemplary icon of the feminine divine was one of nonracial formlessness, fluidity, and ambiguity, what then would become of these preconceived notions of gender, sexuality, race, and beauty?”

Artist Nicole Won Hee Maloof’s vibrant, frenetic video, “What Color Is A Banana?” navigates the tangled web of our physical, social, and economic realities in a manner that is both refreshing and entertaining: A shower of bananas tumble across a webpage. A Google Maps screenshot of NYC shows us how many places along Broadway you can cheaply and easily buy bananas (over 25!) Using colloquial smartphone imagery and funky internet aesthetics, she drives home the plight of exploited banana plantation workers while parsing a racist epithet applied to people of Asian descent.

Sun You, a Bergen Community College adjunct professor of art, creates delicate, quirky installations of wire, false eyelashes, colorful beads and clips that are reminiscent of Paul Klee’s “Twittering Machine.” Myoung Ja Lee, a floral designer from Teaneck, will create an on-site ephemeral floral sculpture that envelopes archival photographs of Korean “comfort women” – representing some of the estimated 100,000 women forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese army during World War II.

These edgy works appear against a background of contemporary updates of more traditional Korean arts – furniture making by Chung Kim and men’s clothing by The Hanbok designers of Fort Lee. Hobong Kim paints austere scenes finding lone Koreans embedded in crowds on busy street corners with overlaid images of monarch butterflies – the very symbol of migration.

The Korean Community Center of Tenafly is cosponsoring this exhibition as part of its ongoing collaboration with Bergen Community College. This fall, for the first time, BCC is offering a US History course in the Korean language.

Located at 100 Grove Street in Tenafly, the Korean Community Center seeks to “promote healthy and independent living for all ages and to integrate the people with Korean Heritage into the greater community through culture & education, outreach, health & social services, and civic advocacy.” The KCC maintains its own art gallery with a very active schedule of curated exhibitions by Korean artists from the US and Korea. Participating artists in NJSeoul will be speaking about their work at BCC as well as the Korean Community Center during the exhibition.