February 13, 2014  |  Learning and Engagement
Conversations across Cultures: Facilitating Art-Making Workshops with Educators from Korea

Workshop participants create artwork inspired by Warhol and Kim

Workshop participants create artwork inspired by Andy Warhol and Kim Whanki

As New Yorkers, we like to think we have a handle on public transit. The local, the express, the muttering person you try and steer clear of—we’re unfazed. But tackling the subway in Seoul, South Korea, was a different story. My colleague Laurel and I were there last June to present on MoMA’s arts programming for individuals with dementia at the World Congress of Gerontology and Geriatrics. While there, we also planned a visit to the office of the Korea Arts and Culture Education Service (KACES), an organization providing an impressive amount and variety of cultural programing to schools and community groups throughout Korea. So we got on the subway. Two and a half hours later, we got off. Luckily, not only was the staff at KACES incredibly forgiving of tardiness, but they were also inspired, collaborative-minded colleagues. Despite the language barrier, we identified likeminded approaches to working at the intersection of arts, education, and community engagement.

Out of that meeting, a partnership was born: this past December, KACES arranged a weeklong professional exchange between their staff, The MoMA Alzheimer’s Project, and museum educators from the Whanki Museum in Seoul. Together, we facilitated art-making workshops for older adults throughout New York City, including residents at the Hebrew Home at Riverdale, and individuals affiliated with the Brooklyn Parkinson Group, Lenox Hill Neighborhood House, and the Museum’s Meet Me at MoMA program.

Participants in the professional exchange in front of artwork created in workshops

MoMA, Whanki Museum, and KACES staff in front of artwork created in jointly lead workshops

During the workshops, MoMA and Whanki Museum educators asked participants to consider artistic appropriation of culturally specific iconography. We first looked at Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans (1962) and discussed the ways in which the imagery resonated both on a personal level and also as a signifier of collective American culture. Then Whanki Museum staff introduced the work of famed Korean modernist Kim Whanki, who often incorporated images of dal hang-ari (moon jars) into his paintings. While I had never heard of a moon jar before, in Korea they’re important symbols of national identity. A traditional vessel unique to Korea, moon jars embody the neo-Confucian principals of frugality, purity, and simplicity.

Participants were then invited to create works incorporating Warhol’s seriality and Kim’s subject matter, but that were nonetheless unique to their own creative understanding of the materials and themes at hand.

The collaborative artwork produced during these workshops is on view in the Museum’s Lewis B. and Dorothy Cullman Education and Research Building, located at 4 West 54 Street, through February 28. Come check it out!