Gallery highlights art of migrant artists

Iowa State graduate student in graphic design Sang Eun Lee’s piece “Journey Home” is a series of seven sheets of paper with various prints on them. Lee used her own frequent migration as a child as an influence for this piece.

Logan Metzger

An exhibition exploring the cultural identity of migrant artists and their social and cultural impact on society is on display in Ames.

The exhibition is on display until Dec. 5 at the Design on Main Gallery in downtown Ames. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday. The gallery is closed Sunday and Monday.

“In-between our four main exhibitions every year we also have a number of MFA students put on their thesis exhibition,” said Rachel Connell, gallery coordinator for Design on Main. “This exhibition by Sang Lee is really interesting. Rather than have it all be her own work, she decided to curate an exhibition. She put out a call for entry and it rotated around that theme of being a migrant artist.”

“Impact: Identity, Belonging and Migration” was curated by Sang Eun Lee, an Iowa State graduate student in graphic design from Seoul, South Korea, as part of her master of fine arts thesis.

“Migration and art are essential elements to understand life, culture and creativity in current America,” Lee said. “The ‘Impact’ exhibition addresses the importance of understanding the diversity that exists in our communities and celebrates our differences as they have become an integral part of our national identity.”

The show features work by Lee and 13 other international artists who came to the United States for education or to resettle. Artwork includes paintings, prints, sculptures, poetry, digital and video works.

“Art makes an impact on society and allows people from different backgrounds to transcend differences through image, sound and story,” Lee said. “Bringing art together in exhibition enables people to experience the works together in communities, to respond and connect.”

Lee herself had three works in the exhibition, all of which were linocut on paper.

The first piece, “Journey Home,” is a series of seven sheets of paper with various prints on them. Lee used her own frequent migration during childhood as an influence for this piece.

The next two pieces are titled “In Between 1” and “In Between 2,” and both show crowds of people walking past one another. In “In Between 1” some people stand out and are colored blue while everyone else is gray and in “In Between 2” some people stand out and are colored red.

Raluca Iancu, assistant professor of art and visual culture, had two pieces in the show. Both of her pieces are plate lithography on paper.

The first, “Sensor Failure,” depicts a plane crashing and the debris after it hits the ground.

In the artist statement, Iancu said the work “explores disaster, memory and vulnerability through different mediums.”

The second piece, “Last of Old Main,” depicts a building turned to rubble and a crowd of people gazing upon it.

Kartika Budhwar, graduate student in English, had one piece in the exhibition. Her piece was a video with a lyric essay being played throughout it.

Budhwar’s essay, “Welcome to Iowa: Letters to Carp and Other Immigrants,” won many awards before being placed in the exhibition, including the Pearl Hogrefe Grant at Iowa State.

Xin Chen, an Iowa State alum, also had one piece in the exhibition.

Chen’s piece was was a chair made from cherry and maple wood and red fiber rope, titled “Recall the Bell.”

Sodam Lee, an Iowa State alum, had three pieces in the exhibition. All of Lee’s pieces were digital prints.

The first piece, “Fishing Boys,” depicts the silhouettes of people stilt fishing with a row of boats across the bottom.

The second piece, “Saving Lives,” shows the domed roof of a stone building with a flowing golden design across the front, which includes Roman numerals.

Lee’s third piece, “Challenge to the World,” depicts a pinkish kaleidoscope image.

Hiromi Okumura, an Iowa State alum, had two pieces in the show. The two pieces were in a different medium.

The first piece, “Perpetual Motion,” is a painting that includes a wide range of the color blue as well as yellows, reds and greens.

The second piece, “Spokane Fall,” is a recorded performance with Okumura and Valerie Williams, of Ames.

Other artists were also brought together for the exhibition who were not affiliated with Iowa State. They include Hee Hun Cho, Luca Cruzat, Sandra de la Rosa, Wongjung Jung, Chintia Kirana, Hyomin Kwon, Ayako Kurimoto and Jessi Ali Lin.