SAAM PRESENTS FIRST MAJOR EXHIBITION OF SUH’S WORK ON EAST COAST
Do Ho Suh (b. 1962) is internationally renowned for his immersive, architectural fabric sculptures that explore the global nature of contemporary identity. “Do Ho Suh: Almost Home” will transform the museum’s galleries through Suh’s captivating installations, which recreate to scale several of his former homes from around the world. Through these works, Suh investigates the nature of home and memory and the impact of migration and displacement on an individual’s sense of self. A new work depicting the artist’s childhood home in Seoul will debut in “Almost Home,” which is the first major exhibition of the artist’s work on the East Coast.
The exhibition will be on view at the Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM) from March 16 through Aug. 5 and is organized by Sarah Newman, the James Dicke Curator of Contemporary Art. It is the latest in a series of projects at the museum that situates the art of the United States in a global context. The museum is the only venue for the exhibition.
“Do Ho Suh: Almost Home” will feature a major installation of the artist’s brightly hued “Hub” sculptures—intricately detailed, hand-sewn fabric recreations of homes where Suh has lived in New York, Berlin and Seoul—along with several drawings and a series of semi-transparent replicas of household objects called “Specimens.” The Hubs comprise a series of conjoined rooms and passageways that visitors can enter and experience from the inside.
“Do Ho Suh has spent a significant part of his life and career in the U.S., and his art allows us to reflect on the way that the American experience is shaped by different cultures and traditions,” said Stephanie Stebich, The Margaret and Terry Stent Director at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. “But as much as Suh’s work is about broader issues of identity and migration, it is also intensely personal. His art invites you to enter his home and experience his private world.”
Suh was born in Korea and moved to the United States at the age of 29 in 1991, and he currently lives between New York, London and Seoul. He crafts his “fabric architecture” using traditional Korean sewing techniques combined with 3-D modeling and mapping technologies. He sees these works as “suitcase homes,” so lightweight and portable they can be installed almost anywhere. Through these spaces, Suh examines how home and identity are ever-evolving concepts in today’s global society, and how culture, tradition and personal experience intersect as people construct their ideas of selfhood and origin.
“Do Ho Suh’s art has a remarkable ability to grant passage into another time and space,” said Newman. “However ethereal, the work anchors you in a tangible reality that evokes our desire to hold on to a past even as it recedes. The experience of being inside his sculptures has the quality of trying to hold onto a dream.”
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Suh received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting from the Rhode Island School of Design and a Master of Fine Arts in sculpture from Yale University. He was named the Wall Street Journal Magazine’s 2013 Innovator of the Year in Art and was recently awarded the 2017 Ho-Am Prize, which is regarded as Korea’s equivalent to the Nobel Prize. He has had solo exhibitions at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, Wisconsin (2017); Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (2016); Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati (2016); Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland (2015); The Contemporary Austin, Texas (2014); National Museum of Contemporary Art, Seoul (2013); the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, Japan (2012–2013); Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art, Japan (2012); and exhibited his work at Mori Art Museum, Tokyo (2015) and Tate Modern, London (2011), among others. His work is in numerous international public and private collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York City; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York City; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Tate Modern, London; Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art, Seoul; Art Sonje Center, Seoul; Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo; Mori Art Museum, Tokyo; and the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, Japan. Suh is represented by the Lehmann Maupin Gallery in New York, Hong Kong and Seoul.
FREE PUBLIC PROGRAMS
Suh will discuss his work and process Thursday, March 15, at 6:30 p.m. as the featured speaker at SAAM’s sixth annual James Dicke Contemporary Artist Lecture, honoring SAAM’s former commission chair, James F. Dicke II.
Newman will give a gallery talk Wednesday, April 18, at 5:30 p.m. The museum’s ensemble-in-residence, the 21st Century Consort, will present a program of exhibition-inspired music Saturday, April 21, at 5 p.m. The museum will celebrate Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month with a Family Day featuring crafts inspired by Suh’s artwork, held in the Kogod Courtyard May 12 from 11:30 to 3 p.m. Details are available at americanart.si.edu/calendar.
“Do Ho Suh: Almost Home” is organized by SAAM with generous support from Altria Group, the Joanne and Richard Brodie Exhibition Endowment, The Coby Foundation Ltd., the James F. Dicke Family Endowment, Barney A. Ebsworth, the Global Citizens Fund, Dorothy Tapper Goldman, Maureen and Gene Kim, Korea Foundation, the Margery and Edgar Masinter Exhibitions Fund, the Michael A. and Marilyn Logsdon Mennello Endowment, and the Share Fund.
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About the Smithsonian American Art Museum
The Smithsonian American Art Museum is the home to one of the largest and most inclusive collections of American art in the world. Its artworks reveal America’s rich artistic and cultural history from the colonial period to today. The museum’s main building is located at Eighth and F streets N.W., above the Gallery Place/Chinatown Metrorail station. Museum hours are 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily (closed Dec. 25). Its Renwick Gallery, a branch museum dedicated to contemporary craft and decorative arts, is located on Pennsylvania Avenue at 17th Street N.W. The Renwick is open from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily (closed Dec. 25). Admission is free. Follow the museum on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. Smithsonian information: (202) 633-1000. Museum information (recorded): (202) 633-7970. Website: americanart.si.edu.