An artist in residence at La Porte Peinte in summer 2015, Kum Joo Ahn describes her work:
Twenty years have passed since I studied Korean textile arts, bojagi (Korean wrapping cloth), and hand embroidery. When I discovered the bojagi 20 years ago, I was thrilled by the beautiful color combinations and patterns of bojagi and I took classes led by Korean national treasures in hand-sewn bojagi, hand-embroidery, and natural dyeing techniques.
The bojagi evokes for me the memories of earlier times. I had used bojagi at home and at elementary school for covering tables and wrapping clothes, bedding and books. All the works are hand-sewn and hand-embroidered, and some fabric is hand-dyed with natural plants and flowers. I have tried to develop my own unique artistry in order to combine practical use and traditional beauty, and to hand-craft modern artworks reinterpreting Korean tradition.
When I instructed bojagi and hand-embroidery in New York and New Jersey, the Peabody Essex Museum in Massachusetts, USA, collected my bojagi works for use in workshops and for exhibition. Since 2007, I have participated in exhibitions and workshops in New Zealand, Malaysia and Seoul. I also instruct bojagi, Korean knotting techniques, and hand-embroidery for Korea-based foreigners from Europe, Asia, America and Africa.
The Peabody Essex Museum, companies in New York, an Indonesian corporate executive, and private collectors have collected my bojagi and hand-embroidered artworks. I plan to instruct Korean textile art and have exhibitions in the USA for three years beginning in August 2015.
I craft textiles by hand. In particular, I craft bojagi, Korean wrapping cloth, and do hand embroidery. The primary function of bojagi is to wrap as well as to cover, to store, and generally to carry things such as jewelry, bedding, books and clothes. Bojagi is used for not only decorative and ceremonial functions but also practical purposes. All my bojagi are hand-sewn and hand-embroidered. And some of the fabric is hand-dyed with plants and the raw materials of Asian medicine. According to their intended use, my bojagi vary in size and material. My current works are a mixture of traditional and contemporary, with modern color combinations. My aim is to create something new, modern and unique which will generate curiosity among viewers.