중앙데일리

U.S. Embassy shows American arts

July 11,2007
Lisa Vershbow, a jewelry artist and the wife of the U.S. ambassador to Korea, poses with three other U.S. artists whose works are displayed at the Seoul National University Museum of Art in southern Seoul. Theexhibition, “Flights of Fantasy,” opened Thursday and runs through July 20. From left: Michael James, a quilter.[YONHAP]
On the third floor of the Seoul National University’s Museum of Art in southern Seoul, several winged objects hang from the ceiling, immediately catching the eye.
Graceful aerial sculptures resembling birds, boats or dinosaurs crafted by American sculptor Brad Story are part of the first exhibition to the Korean public of American art usually displayed in the ambassador’s residence and the United States Embassy in Seoul.
Lisa Vershbow, wife of U.S. Ambassador Alexander Vershbow, is one of four artists whose works are on display. She said the project began from Story’s works.
“It actually began with that bird,” said Vershbow, a jewelry designer, pointing to a Story sculpture during the crowded opening of the exhibition Thursday.
“We were having a reception in the residence and one of the guests looking at Story’s work said to me, ‘Please tell me about this wonderful art. I am so interested.’
“And then he asked me who sees it. I said, ‘Everybody who visits.’ Then he said, ‘What about the public?’ This is unfortunately a private residence. And he said, ‘Maybe we could have an exhibition.’ So that was the beginning of our partnership with private sponsors.”
Sponsors from United Airlines, the American Chamber of Commerce of Korea and Boeing Korea worked with the embassy to showcase a small part of the collection in the U.S. ambassador’s residence in Jeongdong, central Seoul. Among the 20 U.S. artists whose works are exhibited in the ambassador’s house under the U.S. State Department’s Art in Embassies Program, three artists ― Story, quilter Michael James and his wife, and textile artist Judith James ― joined Vershbow in the exhibition.
Under the Art in Embassies Program, initiated in 1964 to promote understanding through art, works by American artists are displayed in the public rooms of some 180 U.S. embassy residences and diplomatic missions worldwide.
According to Elizabeth Ash, the program’s manager, the exhibition in the SNU museum is the first time in the program’s history that works of more than one artist have been displayed to the public.
“This is free and open to the public for the first time [in Korea],” said Vershbow, 54. “I am really excited.”
The exhibition, titled “Flights of Fantasy,” features framed quilts by Michael James on one wall, and framed textile arts on another. Vershbow’s jewelry is exhibited in glass cases, and the winged sculptures draw viewers’ attention to the ceiling. Vershbow said that variety is a distinctly American characteristic. “What they have in common is that each of these artists is an individual and expresses something personal about themselves and their philosophies of life, and that’s very American,” she said.


By Moon Gwang-lip Staff Writer [joe@joongang.co.kr]




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