On the Exhibition

Embroidery, rooted in the long history marginalization as utilitarian “women’s work,” has evolved over the past years to a higher form of textile arts.

Korean embroidery and its technical, aesthetic excellence has been brought to light by the artist, pioneer, and historian, Young Yang Chung. Small needles and homespun silk threads proved to be immensely powerful in her hands as the tools that not only proved to be a creative outlet, but a means as a viable vocation for Korean modern women.

Boldly crossing the threshold of the women’s quarters (gyubang), Korean women have created a movement by breaking boundaries - both physically and metaphorically - through embroidery. 

Elevating the gyubang culture of Korean embroidery, Chung’s ability to “paint with needles” has garnered worldwide attention as she has advanced an art form conceived as women’s work to an important part of textile arts and history.

The Movement of Herstory is a look into the legacy of Korean embroidery through the life and artworks of Chung, now an indelible part of Korean herstory.

Unification (10-panel folding screen)
Young Yang Chung
Korea, 1960s

Featuring Korea’s national flower, the mugunghwa (more commonly known as the “Rose of Sharon”), this screen was commissioned by the Korean government for display in the presidential mansion. Configured in the shape of the Korean peninsula, with the white flowers on the left symbolizing South Korea and the red flowers on the right representing the North, this blossoming branch of mugunghwa expresses the hope for reunification as well the strength and fortitude of Korea’s national spirit, as the mugunghwa is renowned for its power of endurance. 

Applying just one square inch of such fine embroidery entails several hours of labor; this screen required over three years to complete.

Photo credit: John Bigelow Taylor

This exhibition is presented as a part of Asia Week New York and also in celebration of International Women's Day 2017.