Jiha Moon’s exhibit “Double Welcome” at the Mennello Museum of American Art
Atlanta-based Korean artist Jiha Moon’s new show at the Mennello Museum explores the complexities of cultural exchange.
“Double Welcome” mashes up traditional folk art forms and pop-culture iconography from the East and West, combining media as disparate as Korean Hanji fabric and neon acrylic paint. Sometimes one symbol works double duty – like the peach, the official fruit of Moon’s adopted home state of Georgia and a potent symbol of prosperity in Korea.
“Double Welcome” was brought to the Mennello by museum director Shannon Fitzgerald as part of a strategy to make the museum more inclusive. Although the official name of the institution is the Mennello Museum of American Art, Fitzgerald wants everyone to know it’s not just about mom and apple pie.
“I’ve been tasked with expanding what we mean by ‘American art’ here,” Fitzgerald says. “That means exploring diaspora neighborhoods, cross-cultural exchange and contemporary art. An artist like Jiha covers the whole spectrum.”
Fitzgerald’s word, “spectrum,” is significant. Just like every person, each of Moon’s works is a mosaic of different influences – a hybrid.
That overused term “diversity” suggests that we’re all different but can get along nonetheless. But Moon’s hybridity shows us that we’re all made from the same stuff, just arranged slightly differently.