October 5 - November 1, 2006
Saelee Oh, Flora Swimmers, 2006,
hand-cut paper, watercolor, and acrylic
Being asked to create a show…
Curating a show outside of the Giant Robot stores/gallery spaces in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York City has been a freeing experience for me. Our group shows usually consist of one to three pieces from each artist, and the artwork is squeezed together salon-style on relatively small walls. On a much larger scale at St. Lawrence, it has been possible to include more work by more of my favorite artists, and it can be shown in an extensive yet cohesive manner.
Heavenly Friends features artists from Asia and the United States. Contributors from Asia include Munkao from Kuala Lumpur, Eishi Takaoka from Kagoshima (an isolated region in southern Japan) and Heisuke Kitazawa or PCP from Tokyo. U.S.-based artists include Saelee Oh from Los Angeles, Caroline Hwang from New York City, Deth P. Sun from Oakland, and Jeana Sohn, a Korean now living in Los Angeles. The exhibition also includes kozyndan, the pairing of Japanese immigrant Kozue Imamura and southern Californian Dan Kitchens.
Most of the participants already know or know of each other from working in the same indie-minded art world. Some artists are just beginning to find an audience, while others have international clients and patrons. These artists are young—all are below their mid-thirties and many are in their twenties—but their work is solid and voices firm.
Stylistically, their work blurs the lines between creating what is appropriate for contemporary art galleries and taking on more commercial tasks. Media are mixed and matched as well, including narrative illustration, traditional painting, paper cutting and wood sculpture, with the artwork providing the opportunity for an open, accessible dialogue with viewers. In my mind, this is a dream team.
-Eric Nakamura, curator
kozyndan, Bunnyfish, 2006, gouache on paper
List of Artists
- Provoked by the ironies of the world, Malaysian artist Munkao’s approach to art combines elements of awkward fantasy and social commentary to depict his sardonic outlook on life in an oddball, humorous fashion.
- Eishi Takaoka is a young sculptor who lives and works in Kagoshima, Japan. He creates intricately carved wooden heads whose serene facial expressions hide an inner world of bottled-up emotions.
- Heisuke Kitazawa or PCP is a freelance illustrator/designer who draws things that do not exist. He does everything from CD cover designs to picture book illustrations.
- Saelee Oh (Los Angeles, CA; born 1981) works with a variety of media including paint, paper cutouts (hand cut with an X-acto blade) and graphite. Her art explores visual storytelling, relationships between environments, people and nature, and animal imagery as metaphors.
- Caroline Hwang takes the cuts and scrapes of relationships and transforms them with fabric, stitching, paint and collage to create her artwork. She was raised in southern California where she earned her bachelor’s degree at the Art Center College of Design, and currently resides in Brooklyn, NY.
- Deth P. Sun received his BFA in painting and drawing from the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland. His work has been exhibited in the States and abroad.
- Jeana Sohn was born and raised in Korea, where she completed a program in graphic design at Sangmyung University, Seoul. Jeana moved to the U.S. to study character animation at CalArts. Currently she lives and works in Los Angeles.
- kozyndan live, love, laugh, eat, trek, and make together. They are rarely apart.
Eishi Takaoka, untitled, 2006, mineral pigment on wood
Eric Nakamura and Martin Wong are the publishers of Giant Robot magazine. Eric graduated from UCLA with a degree in East Asian studies and started making magazines through a stint at Larry Flynt Publications. In addition, Eric has made an independent movie called Sunsets, shot photos for punk bands, and designed t-shirts.
From movie stars, musicians, and skateboarders to toys, technology, and history, GR magazine covers cool aspects of Asian and Asian-American pop culture. Paving the way for less knowledgeable media outlets, GR put the spotlight on Chow Yun Fat, Jackie Chan, and Jet Li years before they were in mainstream America’s vocabulary.
But Giant Robot is much more than idol worship. GR’s spirited reviews of canned coffee drinks, instant ramen packs, Japanese candies, Asian frozen desserts, and marinated bugs have spawned numerous copycat articles in other publications. GR’s historical pieces on the Yellow Power movement, footbinding, Asian-American gangsters, and other savory topics have been cited by academics and journalists alike. Other regular features include travel journals, art and design studies, and sex.
-excerpted from www.giantrobot.com
The exhibition is presented in conjunction with the New York Conference on Asian Studies, The Asian Subject: Negotiating Identities, October 6-7, 2006, with funding support from the Freeman Foundation's Asian Studies Initiative and the Association for Asian Studies.