“Painting, Drawing & Pottery,” an exhibit by three artists: Mi Ra Won, Christine Haein Chung and Mei Li Shih Milonni, will be shown at Mesa Public Library Art Gallery Jan 6-25. The Gallery is open during regular library hours.
“I have wanted to be an artist since I was five years old. My dream never changed,” Won said.
Others will see the results of that dream as the artist, born in Seoul, South Korea, shows her recent drawings and impressionist oil and watercolor paintings. This is a special show for Won since her daughter, Christine Haein Chung, will also be showing her drawings. Chung, in her foundation year at Pratt Institute in New York, decided to go to art school when she was a junior at Los Alamos High School and loved the art classes she took at UNM -Los Alamos (UNM-LA) and Fuller Lodge Art Center before graduating.
Won is proud of her daughter’s work and might have had some influence, since she not only creates her own work, but teaches art to middle school students near Seoul, South Korea. She will return to teach in Korea, but welcomes the chance to show her new work in Los Alamos, along with her daughter’s and work by Los Alamos potter Mei Li Shih Milonni.
Won, who holds a Master’s Degree in Painting, credits her commitment to art to her high school art teacher who became her mentor. She began using charcoal and pastel, finding the soft lines and color appealing, but switched as a university student to very large scale, vibrantly colored paintings to boldly express her newly found Christian faith.
Two children kept Won very busy for 20 years until 2007, when because of her husband’s job, her family moved to Los Alamos and she began painting once more.
“When I started painting again, I felt a strong creative energy that needed to be expressed,” Won said. “Sometimes I went to Santa Fe to see the works in galleries. The landscape and adobe houses of Santa Fe were very attractive to me. I was surprised by the way the curved lines of the adobe houses were accented by the snow.”
Her artistic journey continued as she explored new subject matter.
“My new subjects were my family, friends, flowers and landscapes which I had never painted before,” Won said. “Last year I realized that my artistic talent came from God and it was my responsibility to use it. This was a turning point in my life. In the past, I tried to speak to others through my painting. Now I paint my subjects as I see them and let the art speak for itself. Before, I tried to shout at people through my paintings. Now I am content to speak quietly.”
Won has pursued her interest in art through studio and art history classes at UNM-LA. She has shown her work in South Korea and locally, winning the first place juror’s award in the Impressionism in New Mexico Exhibition at Fuller Lodge Art Center.
Milonni, after retiring from her job as a theoretical physicist 15 years ago, now finds beauty and expression in pottery. Working at UNM-LA ceramics studio, she began creating her elegantly formed vessels about ten years ago. Sometimes whimsical, such as her ceramic handbag and shoes in bright green, and sometimes subtle with simple, functional forms and earth toned, graded glazes, Shih’s pottery is expressive of a gamut of creative impulse.
In addition to her elegant forms, Milonni uses Chinese characters and poetry, her own and traditional verses, to further enrich the surface and content.
“I feel there is great beauty in traditional Chinese poetry and calligraphy and try to incorporate aspects of that in my work,” Milonni said. “I try to use simple and natural forms. I think that including Chinese writings adds an additional artistic dimension to my pieces.”
She recently spent several months at Harvard exploring the expanded opportunities their facilities offer for pottery making.
“I loved exploring new techniques and gaining broader perspectives in ceramics,” Milonni said.
Her newer work includes naked raku, resulting in rich darks and creamy neutrals with textured surfaces achieved by using horsehair, feathers, sugar sprinkled on the glaze, all combining to make uniquely beautiful pottery. Milonni’s work will be for sale by contacting her or her representative directly.
Drawing by Christine Haein Chung. Courtesy/Mesa Public Library Art Gallery