Opening July 2024

With a deceptively lighthearted touch, Jiha Moon (b. 1973, South Korea) examines the entanglements of, as she puts it, “globalization, identity, and the visual information overload of contemporary society.” Incorporating painting, drawing, collage, and ceramics, One An Other will open in the museum lobby in July 2024. It represents the most ambitious site-specific installation to date by Moon, who received her MFA degree at the University of Iowa in 2002.  

A multicolored ceramic mask

Moon’s work crackles with neon colors and ripples with imagery synthesized from tattoo designs, Korean temple paintings, video games, social media, and Pop art. Fortune cookies and bananas, among other motifs, allude to cross-cultural encounters and diasporic movement. Moon is fascinated by the circulation of cultural symbols and cheekily recontextualizes them to destabilize our assumptions. As she puts it, “misunderstanding is a step towards understanding.” 

In One An Other, porcelain masks like the ones pictured here will dot a swirling landscape. Moon, who explores hybridity in both form and content, says that she enjoys “evolving and changing painting and ceramic on the same surfaces at the same time.” Masks are ritualistic objects with countless sacred, folk, and secular functions, but are also subject to projection and distortion. These tokens of Western colonialism were famously appropriated by aesthetic movements like Expressionism and Cubism to advance their narratives of modernity.  

A multicolored ceramic mask

For Moon, these double-edged associations make masks a compelling vehicle for considering the tensions between self and other, reality and fantasy. “I am intrigued by the fact that when we try to understand others we always filter through ourselves,” she notes. This sense of simultaneity and refraction colors Moon’s title, a play on the phrase “one another,” which suggests reciprocity. With a flick of the pen, the words transform into One An Other, a construction that expands, imposes distance, and accentuates alterity. 

One An Other is the third installment in the museum’s Thresholds series, which highlights the work of Iowa-affiliated artists. It will remain on view until summer 2026. Jiha Moon was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2023 and is currently Assistant Professor of Art at Florida State University in Tallahassee.

One An Other is generously supported by the Gerald Eskin Ceramics Art Initiative, Maryann Evans, and the Friends of Museum of Art Fund.
Captions
Top right image: Nabi Gaksi, 2017, earthenware, underglaze, glaze, found object, wire, 13 x 8 x 4 in. (33 x 20.3 x 10.2 cm)
Bottom left image: Imugi She, 2019, porcelain, mason stain, underglaze, glaze, lapis, resin, 18 x 11 x 4 in. (45.8 x 28 x 10.2 cm)