Q&A with Mi Ju
Tell us about your new solo exhibition
"Within Blue" offers a different perspective on the world we live in. We are surrounded by countless living organisms and they exist in all different shapes, sizes and colors. Within the natural environment everything is connected.
Two of the larger paintings, Coral Sea and Sea Farm, are drawn from the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest living organism—a reef system that is composed of and built by billions of coral polyps. I went scuba diving in Cairns, Australia, in 2004 and was amazed with the unique habitat under the sea and the diversity of life. I re-create this universe through my own memories and experience.
In Birds on the Border, the eyes of two facing birds contain the South Korean and North Korean flags. The birds are within one mountain and a rat is digging a tunnel below. I made this painting considering relations on the Korean peninsula.
How do we understand your body of work in a global context and in your own history?
When I lived in Korea I wasn’t so conscious of my Korean heritage and the Korean folk art influence on my work. People are less different from me there and everything is familiar. Living away from Korea, I’ve become more aware of my surroundings and I have thought more about my national and cultural identity. I have lived in the US almost 11 years now. American culture has heavily influenced my life. I now employ some western painting techniques (rendering, soaking, and dripping). If I didn’t live abroad I would not have arrived at my current aesthetic.
Take us through your work process
Exploring images through memory, I collect fragmented pieces of the universe in and around us. Compositions often appear as totemic landscapes- a mix of chaos and ordered hierarchy. Sometimes what I remember is not what I saw. The lines keep mutating. Forms become illusory and repetitive. Intense colors and intricate patterns randomly come and go.
What references do you draw upon in your work?
My work draws references from the art of Buddhist temples, Native American totem poles, and Aboriginal topographical art to Gaia theory, emergence patterns, and swarm behavior.
What inspires you?
I like to travel. Experiencing different landscapes and encountering diverse living things excite and motivate me to paint.
Tell us about you current situation and why you are not able to attend your opening in Copenhagen?
I’m currently in the process of applying for my Green Card in the US. The application process has taken much longer than it would have with previous administrations, leaving me without a travel visa until my Green Card has been issued. It has been now over a year and half since I submitted my application, but hopefully this will be resolved soon!