What kind of gaze can a museum cultivate? While MOA’s Multiversity Galleries displays thousands of historical ethnographic objects from around the world, visitors may be surprised to discover that this space is also home to an impressive and growing collection of works by contemporary artists. Carefully curated to stand in relation to the historical belongings on display, these works draw on traditional as well as new imagery, methods and materials to demonstrate the continuity of cultural practices or to comment on contested histories and current concerns.
As Karen Duffek, MOA’s Curator of Contemporary Visual Arts and Pacific Northwest, says, “Contemporary works help to interrupt the space. Artists point attention to the ways in which they connect to and reclaim their cultural heritage, but also make visible the dynamism of art- and culture-making.” The acquisition of contemporary art at MOA speaks to the role of museums as active sites of inquiry and research, subverting notions of anthropological collections as static and unchanging. Experience a different kind of engagement with MOA’s collections by following this path to four contemporary artworks.
Blue JangOt, by Key-Sook Geum (2015)
Inspired by the aesthetics and philosophies of clothing from Korea’s Joseon Dynasty (1392–1910), Korean artist Geum combines art with fashion in her exquisite wire sculptures in the shape of women’s clothing. Blue JangOt represents the jangot, a veil in the shape of an overcoat worn by noble women in the past.