The Moss Arts Center presents two solo exhibitions featuring the work of artists Namwon Choi and Shin-il Kim. “The Shape of Distance” showcases Choi’s vivid monochromatic landscapes, including a 16-foot mural print, while “In Between Five Colors” includes recent multimedia sculptures by Kim, select early stop-motion animations, and a new projection sculpture fabricated on-site at the Moss Arts Center.

The exhibitions open with a reception on Thursday, Jan. 27, from 5-7 p.m., in the Grand Lobby of the Moss Arts Center, 190 Alumni Mall. Both artists will join Brian Holcombe, Moss Arts Center curator, for a moderated conversation on Friday, Jan. 28, at 2 p.m. in the Cube. The in-person panel discussion event is free and no registration is required. A free livestream option will also be available.

Namwon Choi: “The Shape of Distance”

Presented in the Ruth C. Horton Gallery, this exhibition consists of 12 gouache paintings on geometric shaped-panels and two painted sculptures anchored by a 16-foot mural print of Choi’s tondo painting, “Shape of Distance (faceted circle).” Trained in traditional Korean ink-wash painting, Choi's multi-perspectival, geometric, and finely-detailed depictions of scenic byways evoke poetic ideas of time, transition, and states of in-betweenness.

Choi's vivid monochromatic blue landscapes compress distance and invite an intimate perspective. Blue is the color of distance for Choi, as landscapes appear bluish from afar, when light scatters in the atmosphere. Choi’s depiction of highways evokes familiarity – one that became a remedy for the alienation she experienced as a Korean immigrant.

Entering the gallery, the sun-shaped mural of “Shape of Distance (faceted circle)” on the far wall becomes an alternate for the sky. The monumental scale immerses the viewer in Choi’s perspective-bending imagery and miniature brushwork seen in her shaped panels and painted sculptures that fill the gallery.

Choi borrows from the geometric abstraction of the Korean writing system consisting of lines and circles to divide and frame her photorealistic landscapes and embed them with meaning. A line represents human, circle represents sky, and square represents earth. This is referenced clearly in the “Shape of Distance (Square and Circle),” 2021, where the panel support is a diagonal union of a square and circle. The Earth square grounds the sky circle and its imagery that floats in the foreground.

Born in Korea and currently residing in Savannah, Georgia, Choi’s work has been exhibited at the Korean Culture Center in New York; Korean Culture Center in Los Angeles; MOCA GA in Atlanta; B20 Wiregrass Biennial at the Wiregrass Museum in Dothan, Alabama; and included in the United States’ Art in Embassies program. In 2020 she was one of three finalists selected for the most recent 1858 Prize Contemporary Southern Art Award at the Gibbes Museum in Charleston, South Carolina. She is currently a professor of foundation studies at Savannah College of Art and Design.

Shin-il Kim: “In Between Five Colors”

On display in the Miles C. Horton Jr. Gallery, Sherwood Payne Quillen ’71 Reception Gallery, and Francis T. Eck Exhibition Corridor, “In Between Five Colors” is an exhibition of recent multimedia sculptures and select early stop-motion animations by Kim. This exhibition includes a new projection sculpture, "Active Anesthesia—Ma Eum" (2022,) fabricated at the Moss Arts Center and viewable at night from Turner Street.

Korean-born Kim explores the limitations of language to make video sculptures and animations that shift between perception and reality. With light and color, he constructs form from the negative spaces of characters and the gaps between lines. Language becomes a barrier to seeing, and its absence reveals meaning under the surface of knowledge.

A wall-mounted light sculpture by artist Shin-il Kim features two forms that are extruded portions of space between Korean characters.
Shin-il Kim's wall-mounted sculpture, "Mind," 2015. ABS, LED, each 39 x 31.5 x 17.7 inches. Image courtesy of the artist.

In “Mind,” 2015, the wall-mounted light sculpture’s two forms are extruded portions of space between the Korean characters. Kim sees the gaps as opportunity to test the limits of visualization. With “In Between Five Colors-Ma,” 2021, a wall panel composed of thin horizontal bands of color tape with gaps reveal shaped light when viewers pass by. Kim made this work by magnifying and stretching portions of photographs of everyday occurrences, as he explains, “to show every detail… which we normally can't see because of our tendency to see five colors.”

The new installation, “In Between Five Colors,” integrates the text sculpture and the stretched image panels. A series of five large-scale gridded structures defined by the empty spaces of Korean language characters sit in the middle of the gallery. The structures are animated with projection-mapped video, which magnify an everyday image into its essential blocks of color. Each work in the exhibition challenges the dominating force of information and documents Kim’s continuous visual experiments to test the limitations of perception through abstraction. 

A resident of Seoul, South Korea, Kim was nominated for the “Korea Artist Prize 2014” at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art. He has been exhibited at the Kim Chong Yung Museum in Korea, Hiroshima MOCA in Japan, and Queens Museum in New York. He participated in the Seville International Biennale, Spain; Singapore Biennale 2006, Singapore; and Gwangju Biennale 2004. His work is in the permanent collections at the New Museum in New York; Queens Museum in New York; National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Korea; Seoul Museum of Art in Korea; and Leeum Museum in Korea.

Kim will work closely with Virginia Tech students and faculty members, serving as a visiting artist in residence for two weeks in the university’s Creativity and Innovation District Living-Learning Program residence hall.

The exhibitions are curated by Brian Holcombe, Moss Arts Center curator, and mark the beginning of Holcombe’s programming at the center.

Visiting the galleries

The center’s galleries are open on Wednesday-Friday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m., and Saturday, 10 a.m.–4 p.m. The exhibitions will be on view through Saturday, March 26. The galleries and all related events are free and open the public.

The Moss Arts Center adheres to the guidelines of the Virginia Department of Health and Virginia Tech in its operations, including protocols for distancing, face coverings, and cleaning and sanitation. According to current university policy, all faculty, staff, students, and visitors to the Moss Arts Center are required to wear a mask.

The center offers many opportunities for students, faculty, and community members to engage with artists and their work. To arrange a group tour of the galleries, contact Meggin Hicklin.

Proof of COVID-19 vaccination or negative COVID-19 test is required to attend the artist talk on Friday, Jan. 28, at 2 p.m. in the Cube. Masks are required at all times for patrons, visitors, and staff regardless of vaccination status in all indoor spaces at the Moss Arts Center. More information about these requirements is available on the Moss Arts Center website.

Parking is available in the North End Parking Garage on Turner Street. When not staffed for a special event, visitors may park in the garage by taking a ticket at entry and paying with Visa or Mastercard upon exit. Virginia Tech has also partnered with ParkMobile to provide a convenient, contactless electronic payment option for parking, which may be used at any parking meter, campus parking space, or lot with standard F/S, C/G, or R parking.

If you are an individual with a disability and desire an accommodation, please contact Jonathan Boulter at 540-231-5300 or email during regular business hours.

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