Ambassadorial art gets its own show

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Ambassadorial art gets its own show

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A number of diplomatic figures and artists gathered on Thursday in a cozy gallery in Insa-dong, central Seoul, to celebrate the opening of an exhibition by Lisa Vershbow, a professional metalsmith and the wife of U.S. Ambassador to Korea Alexander Vershbow.
“In this exhibition, I wanted to express my feeling about the move to Korea from Russia,” Ms. Vershbow told the JoongAng Daily. The Vershbows lived in Russia for four years before her husband was appointed to his current post; she has now lived here for seven months.
About 100 items created by Ms. Vershbow are on display in the exhibition, titled “Jewelry and Objects.” Many of the pieces on display were made in Russia, while the rest were made in Korea. She said that she hopes the exhibition can act as a “bridge between the two,” referring to Russia and Korea.
Ms. Vershbow said the new Korean influences that are beginning to surface in her work are jade, bamboo (which surrounds her studio in the official U.S. Residence), and hanji, or Korean traditional paper. “At the moment, my favorite is the ‘Bamboo Boa’,” she said, referring to the 145-centimeter (57-inch) long necklace with bamboo-leaf-shape ornaments made of aluminum, silver and jade. She has worked with the leaf motif for two years, and the beautiful and elegant touch of bamboo leaves gave her a new design, she added.
As for hanji, however, she said she decided it was not suitable for making her art, and so used it for display backgrounds. She sewed paper to make the clothes over which her metal pieces are displayed.
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Ms. Vershbow said she gets ideas by inspiration and sometimes problem solving. Last Spring, she participated in a fashion show in St. Petersburg, touting her accessories. But after seeing the huge distance between the catwalk and the guest seating, she realized she had to make larger items ― such as her newer, larger metal handbags.
“It’s easy to overdo it with various materials, and especially using aluminum, the creation could look very ‘techy.’ But [Ms. Vershbow] succeeded in elegantly harmonizing the materials,” said Nina Braastad, the wife of Arild Braastad, Norwegian envoy to Seoul.
“I’m proud to be the husband of the artist,” Mr. Vershbow said. He said she’s like a cultural ambassador of the United States. “When we were in Russia, she also gave lectures at colleges and a workshop with other artists,” he said, adding that for her work, she received the Avis Bohlen Award from the American Foreign Service Association last year. The award is given to a family member of a Foreign Service employee who has done the most to advance American interests. “It’s amazing that a different culture is reflected in her pieces. The bamboo is only the beginning,” he added.


by Park Sung-ha

The exhibition will end on June 15. Sun Gallery is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. everyday. Ms. Vershbow will have a talk with visitors on Wednesday, to discuss her art world, by showing slides of things that influenced her and her work.

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