HomeCommunity NewsDescanso Gardens to Display Korean American Art

Descanso Gardens to Display Korean American Art

Traditional Korean artwork is coming to Descanso Gardens with an exhibition called “HWAJODO: Flowers and Birds in Korean American Art,” set to grace the Sturt Haaga Gallery from June 27 through Sept. 29.
Curated by renowned Asian art historian Meher McArthur, this exhibition presents a vibrant juxtaposition of traditional Korean flower-and-bird imagery with the innovative works of contemporary Korean American artists from the Los Angeles area.
Drawing from centuries-old traditions, “HWAJODO” explores the enduring themes of nature, particularly flowers and birds, that have been a focal point in Korean art. Partnered with The Korean Cultural Center of Los Angeles, the exhibition uniquely combines traditional representations of flowers and birds, particularly in “minhwa” (Korean folk painting), with the abstract and stylized interpretations of contemporary artists, reflecting a bridge between the past and present, tradition and innovation.
The exhibition is divided into two main sections: traditional art and contemporary art.
Traditional art features the vibrant and colorful “minhwa” paintings of Song Kyu Tae, a master of Korean folk painting, his student Kee Soon Sung, President of the Korean Folk Art Association, and several of her students in Los Angeles.
Meanwhile, contemporary art showcases the works of four prominent Korean American artists: Dave Young Kim, Dana Weiser, Hei Myung Hyun and Jane Park Wells. These artists, each with their unique approach and connection to their Korean heritage, offer a fresh perspective on the depiction of flowers and birds in large-scale murals, ceramics, textiles and abstract paintings.
“We invite everyone to experience the rich cultural heritage and artistic evolution presented in “HWAJODO,” said Juliann Rooke, Descanso Gardens CEO, in a statement. “Join us in celebrating the beauty of nature through the lens of these phenomenal Korean and Korean American artists.”
Curated by McArthur, HWAJODO explores the use of iconic natural symbols by several generations in a variety of forms.
“By looking at the different ways birds and flowers are used in the art, we can see the different ways the artists are exploring their cultural heritage,” McArthur said. “The more traditional artists use birds and flowers in ways that have symbolic meaning, while the contemporary artists feature new motifs and are creating their own meaning.”
Kim is a Los Angeles native known for his large-scale murals incorporating traditional Korean elements. A recipient of several awards, Kim explores themes of home and cultural identity in his art. Weiser examines the construction of culture and identity through her ceramics and hand-embroidered works. As a Korean adoptee, Weiser’s art is a personal narrative that blends traditional Korean motifs with her own experiences. Hyun brings together Eastern and Western influences in her tranquil and dynamic paintings. Having rediscovered her Korean artistic roots, Hyun’s work celebrates the spiritual qualities of the natural world. Wells focuses on abstract compositions, using a mathematical structure to create a sense of connection across her pieces. Her work often hides elements of decay and growth, reflecting on the cycles of nature.
The opening event will be held June 27 with a preview of the garden available for free between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. Artists will be on hand to discuss their work.
This exhibition is funded by the Pasadena Art Alliance, and the programs of the Sturt Haaga Gallery are sustained by an endowment from Heather and Paul Haaga. Entry to the exhibition is free with admission. Visitors can find more information at descansogardens.org.

First published in the April 18 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Most Popular

[bsa_pro_ad_space id=3]