Daily Art Moment: Lee Chunghie

Lee Chunghie, Bojagi, 30x28 5/8 inches, silk and screen print. A square textile composed of varied rectangular shapes in blues, pinks, mauve, burgundy, greens, and gold. Stitching creates dark, thin lines between the transparent fabric scraps giving the work the look of a patchwork quilt. Some blocks of fabric are set side by side, some parallel to each other. A few of the blocks, like the blue and burgundy, have partial patterns visible, such as stripes and circular designs. Almost all of the fabric has a rippled effect to the weave. Some transparent fabric blocks continue beyond the square along with thin ribbons that trail off the edges of the work. Threads and ribbon ends are visible throughout.

“Fiber artist Lee Chunghie transforms the traditional Korean textile form known as bojagi into wearable art and wall installations. Bojagi became popular in the Joseon dynasty (1392–1910) as a frugal way to repurpose fabric scraps, quilting them together to create new and often beautiful cloths that could be used for wrapping objects. Lee’s practice recognizes the now ‘anonymous’ makers, sequestered in the women’s quarters during the patriarchal Joseon period, who transformed everyday needlework into fiber art of extraordinary creative expression. Using transparent layers of silk, Lee triple-stitches each seam to create linear design elements that call attention to the patchwork nature of bojagi fabrics. Her pieces have an incredible weightlessness and, as she says, ‘dimensional and illusive movement quality.’ The extended patches of silk and hanging ribbons of this work emphasize its sculptural quality and sense of movement.

A Fulbright scholar at RISD in the 1990s, Lee Chunghie has lectured and exhibited around the globe, from the Victoria & Albert Museum to Hongik University, which is renowned for its studio art programs. In her decades-long artistic practice as well as her work as a professor, curator, and writer, Lee has remained deeply engaged in the ongoing vitality of this traditional form of Korean wrapping cloth for present-day fiber arts. In 2012, she founded the Korean Bojagi Forum, a biennial conference devoted to the living tradition of bojagi and its potential as a source of contemporary inspiration.”

Jeannie Kenmotsu, Japan Foundation Associate Curator of Japanese Art & Interim Head of Asian Art

Lee Chunghie (Korean, active United States, born 1945). Bojagi, 2001. Silk and screenprint. Gift of Dorothy Lemelson, 2001.49.3 © unknown, research required

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