Archive of Posts by Allison P.

Dual Natures in Ceramics: Eight Contemporary Artists from Korea

Yeesookyung 2

“In modern art, as everyone knows, the beauty of deformity is very often emphasized, insisted upon. But how different is Korean deformity. The former is produced deliberately, the latter naturally. Korean work is merely the natural result of the artisan’s state of mind, which is free from dualistic man-made rules.”

– Bernard Leach (1887–1979)

Have you been to San Francisco Airport lately? If so, you’ve probably seen these gorgeous pieces on display while walking to your gate.


Our very own Hyonjeong Kim Han, Associate Curator for Korean art at the Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, served as a guest curator of Dual Natures in Ceramics; Eight Contemporary Artists from Korea. She explains it best:

“It is extremely exciting to see Korea’s past and present through beautiful ceramics come together at SFO gallery in Terminal 3. It is the first time that the Asian Art Museum and SFO Museum together present Korean art in one of the busiest places in the city.

We live in a world of dual natures, such as departure and arrival; yin and yang; existence and nonexistence; beginning and ending; past and future. I hope people appreciate how the eight Korean artists in the show transcend this duality in our lives and art.”

Duel Natures in Ceramics

Catch this exhibition before it takes off for good on Feb. 22, 2015.


All pictures in this post: Private Collection, Photography courtesy of SFO Museum.

We’re on Khan Academy

“Museums—having increasingly positioned themselves as educational resources—have the potential to fill the gaps left by the inadequate resources on Asia in schools throughout the nation.” – Bridge Program Evaluation

It has always been our goal to spearhead efforts to close these gaps. That’s why we’re really excited about our new online courses on Asian art history at Khan Academy. As a Khan partner, we are among world-class institutions such as the Museum of Modern Art, the J. Paul Getty Museum, and the California Academy of Sciences, who are all doing their part to bring knowledge to the people in new and different ways.

If you haven’t heard of them before, Khan Academy is a non-profit educational website that aims to provide no-cost, world-class education for anyone, anywhere. Courses range across all types of topics, from math to humanities. It’s not surprising that they reach over ten million students a month.

When Khan Academy came to us, they had little information on Asian art history. Once they saw our rich repository of videos, essays and more, they knew that we would be a good fit. We were likewise excited by the opportunity to reach a new audience, so we worked together to create the course. Now you can dig deeper into Asian art history while getting stats on yourself and earning fun badges. Check it out!

Khan Academy

Lunar New Year traditions

Lunar New Year is the most important traditional holiday in Korea. Many people return to their hometowns to visit their parents and other relatives for the holiday. Among other traditions, we perform an ancestral ritual called “charye,” preparing fine foods and honoring our ancestors. We get up earlier than usual on the Lunar New Year and dress up in colorful traditional Korean clothing called “hanbok.”
For breakfast we eat “tteokguk,” soup with sliced rice cakes. We say that once we’ve finish eating tteokguk, we have gotten a year older.

Korean Culture day food

After breakfast, children wish their elders a happy New Year by performing a traditional deep bow and saying, “Have a blessed New Year.” The elders reward this by giving the children New Year’s money in luck bags made with beautiful silk designs and offering “deokdam,” or words of wisdom and well-wishing. Parents and grandparents might say, “I wish you health and no troubles,” or “I hope you get into the college of your dreams.”

Then family members get together to play “yunnori,” a traditional board game. Usually men and boys fly rectangle kites called “yeonnalligi,” and play “jegichagi,” a game in which a light object is wrapped in paper or cloth, and then kicked in a football-like manner. Women and girls play “neolttwigi” – a game of jumping on a seesaw.

Maybe traditional Koran culture seems complicated, but whenever I recall the days of Lunar New Year in Korea, it was always fun, warm, and exciting!

Written by: Mee Ran Hong

Happy Lunar New Year!

Red Envelope - Year of the Horse

Happy Lunar New Year! It’s Year 4712, the Year of the Horse.

Pick up a snazzy red envelope this weekend at the Asian Art Museum during our free Target Sunday. The envelopes contain discount admission tickets good for a future visit. We’ll have a limited quantity on hand, so get them while you can! Then enjoy our day of Lunar New Year festivities, including acrobatics by Red Panda Acrobats.

Can’t make it? Keep an eye out for us at the Chinatown Community Fair or visit us at the museum on Feb 15 or 16.

Holiday Gift Guide

Enjoy some art and get your holiday shopping done too! The Asian Art Museum offers all kinds of items that are perfect for kids and adults alike. Feel good knowing that all purchases support the museum’s educational programs and exhibitions, as well as the individual artists and their communities.

Check out our gift guide for a sampling of what you can find:

Zen Out

Buddha BoardBuddha board: Based on the Zen concept of living in the moment, paintings created on Buddha boards last just a moment or two. Using water, you can write or paint on the special paper, watch the image darken and then slowly fade away. Each Buddha Board comes with a brush and water tray. $12.95–$34.95

Korean Tea HankookKorean tea by Hankook Tea Company: Choose from more than 10 flavors, ranging from light green teas to full-bodied doo mool jaksul cha to the fragrant herbal teas of persimmon leaf.  The founder of the tea company, Yang Won Suh, was appointed the 34th Grand Master of Traditional Korean Foods by the Republic of Korea, awarded for superior production of hwang cha and matcha.  $10–$20

Homey Goodies 

Hand Carved Chops Stone SealsHand-carved chops. Created by the museum store’s resident artist Jun Pei Cui, these beautiful soapstone seals are a truly unique gift. Each hand-carved seal represents its owner through the use of a name, a phrase or an image. Cui is available Saturday and Sundays from 1–5 p.m. to help select and design the seal for recipients. $30 and up

Raised Bell Cup Set KwangJuYoRaised bell cup set: Korean ceramic company KwangJuYo reinterprets traditional Korean ceramics with a modern twist in this cup set from the Weolbaek (Moon white) collection. These cups are traditionally given in pairs as wedding gifts. Set of two porcelain cups in a wooden gift box. $70

Asian Art Museum cookbooksCookbooks. We carry over 60 cookbooks that span the entire continent. Learn to make dishes that range from comfort foods to innovative delectables. No matter the skills of the chef, there is a book for every budget.

Korean Jewelry BoxKorean jewelry box. Imported from Korea for In Grand Style, these jewelry boxes feature exquisite mother-of-pearl inlay. They open to reveal four small drawers. Available in six elegant designs. $100 (Member’s Price: $90)

Playful Toys

Stuffed Rhino DollStuffed rhino doll. The stuffed rhino doll resembles one of the most treasured objects in the museum’s collection. More than 3,000 years old, the bronze rhinoceros vessel is among the most celebrated ancient Chinese bronzes in the world. $25

Princess Sunyong DollPrincess Sun-yong doll. This limited-edition princess doll is designed by Bay Area artist and Asian Art Museum docent Pauline Tsui. The doll is adorably dressed in bright pink traditional Korean clothing (hanbok) with an embroidered carrying pouch that you can tuck her into. For ages 3 and up. $45

Wood Robot FigureWood robot. Designed in Korea, this all-natural figure will entertain children and adults alike. Crafted from four types of wood, the figure has a linseed oil finish that highlights the natural colors and grains of the material. We’ve got plenty of other gifts great for kids. $25 (Members price: $22.50)

All Around Appeal

Store-Tied RocksTied Rocks by Shizu Okino. Bay Area artist Shizu Okino combines the natural beauty of river stones and the intricate patterns of bamboo woven in traditional Japanese basket motifs to create Tied Rocks, unique gifts sure to please both traditionalists and contemporary fans. $25–$95

Luna Lee albumLuna’s New Solo Album. Korean YouTube sensation Luna Lee debuts her solo album featuring the gayageum, a zither-like string instrument.  The album features original songs as well as notable covers of classics by Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd and Bob Dylan. $12.98 (Members Price: $11.68)

See something you like or still looking for just the right thing? Come in and peruse our full selection. We’ve got wonderful wares as diverse as their price tags. The store is open during regular museum hours and doesn’t require paid admission – just let them know you’re there for some retail therapy. Happy holidays!