Attend a 'Mad Tea Party' at Sumter gallery

Paintings, prints and ceramics on exhibit


Acclaimed artist Jiha Moon will offer A Mad Tea Party on Thursday evening when her exhibition of the same name opens at the Sumter County Gallery of Art. The installation is the artist's largest "tea ceremony" installation to date, said SCGA executive director Karen Watson.

The installation comprises "low, beautifully crafted tables (that) will display numerous, intricate ceramic pieces" made by Moon, Watson said. Moon will give an artist talk at Thursday's opening reception, and the exhibition will also include new prints and paintings.

The artist works in several mediums, most often creating abstract works in ink and acrylics on Hanji, paper made from the inner bark of the paper mulberry, which grows in Korea. She then alters parts of her paintings into recognizable images, for example, cartoon characters, and often uses parts of textiles and small trinkets, making dreamlike creations "that challenge fixed notions of cultural identity and represent our information-overloaded world."

Felicia Feaster of the Atlanta Journal Constitution wrote in her review of Moon's paintings that they "look like contained explosions, the world blown to smithereens. There's the suggestive tang of gunpowder in the air, and billowing smoke seems to dissipate as we contemplate her manic miasmas of color and form. But look closely at Moon's works painted on glossy Mylar, and all is not destruction and chaos. Instead there are folk tales and familiar apparitions emerging from the fog: beasts and sprites, dragons and fish, twisting trees and peeping eyeballs watching us as we watch them."

She "is in a perpetual state of 'other' as she mines numerous histories and cultures, distilling them into sly and challenging works of art. There is no filter, just a quirky mix matching of references. Moon harvests cultural elements native to Korea, Japan and China and then unites them with Western elements to investigate the multi-faceted nature of our current global identity as influenced by popular culture, technology, racial perceptions and folklore," said Daniel Fuller, curator at the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center.

Born in Daegu, South Korea, Moon currently lives and works in Atlanta. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at Korea University in Seoul and holds two Master of Fine Arts degrees, one from EWHA University in Seoul and the second from the University of Iowa. Her work has been exhibited at Charlotte's Mint Museum; The Halsey Institute of Art in Charleston; The Weatherspoon Museum of Art in Greensboro, North Carolina; American University Museum in Washington, D.C.; the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington; and several other prestigious venues.

Among her awards, Moon received grants from the Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters and Sculptors and the Working Artist Project of the Museum of Contemporary Arts in Atlanta. Her works can be seen in numerous permanent collections, among them Atlanta's High Museum, Charlotte's Mint Museum, the Smithsonian Institution and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture.

Watson said this exhibition, like all events and undertakings at the SCGA, is made possible by the Sumter community. "To bring an important artist such as Moon to our community, it takes a lot of belief and support," she said. This exhibition received support from First Citizens, Jones Chevrolet, Sub Station II, Zaxby's, The Glenmore and May Sharp Trust, Jay Schwartz, Susan and Jim Allen and the Sumter County Cultural Commission, which receives support from the John & Susan Bennett Arts Fund of the Coastal Community Foundation of S.C., the S.C. Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts. Flowers are courtesy of Poinsett-Bland Garden Club & the Council of Garden Clubs of Sumter.

The Sumter County Gallery of Art presents "Jiha Moon - A Mad Tea Party," a large solo exhibition of works by Korean American artist Jiha Moon, Sept. 5 through Nov. 1. The show opens with a 5:30-to-7:30 p.m. Thursday reception and artist talk by Moon.

The SCGA, 200 Hasell St., is open during regular hours, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, for the run of the exhibition. For more information, contact the gallery at (803) 775-0543 or visit the website