An art show that’s an investigation into public protests is East Asia opens at RedLine Contemporary Art Center in Denver on Friday.
“CounterART: Aesthetics of South Korean Activism” features art created during the Candlelight Revolution, a series of massive, peaceful protests against former South Korea President Park Geun-hye, who was impeached in late 2016 and eventually removed from office.
The show was born out of a “simple desire to really know how artists can make social impact and positive changes,” said curator and Denver-based artist Sammy Seung-min Lee.
“I think [the art during these protests] brought out more participation,” Lee said.
Lee also founded Collective SML | k, an artist-run space near the Arts District on Santa Fe focused on highlighting Asian-American art and artists. She co-curated the RedLine exhibition with Yang Wang, assistant professor of Asian Art History at the University of Colorado Denver.
The show will feature 30 works by 14 artists, including Seoul-based Oksang Lim, who is heralded for his artwork against political oppression.
Each of the artists responded to the political movement differently, Lee said. Some turned their political activism into artwork right in the midst of the crowds. Others let the protests inspire them and, upon returning to their studios, created works. But they all “used this art as an agency, as an outlet to process communal trauma.”
This year, RedLine has “been exploring how political, social and cultural divisions find unity through the visions and ideas of artists,” RedLine director Louise Martorano said in a release.
“‘CounterART’ is an excellent expression of this theme and we are so excited to host ... the revolutionary art that accompanied this powerful political uprising.”
Working on this show is inspiring Lee’s own creative process.
“When art can sometimes feels like something in the background, something inactive or unnecessary, it can be treated and seen that way,” she said. “But seeing other artists processing and channeling [their experiences] ... that’s encouraging for me.”
“CounterART: Aesthetics of South Korean Activism” runs at RedLine Oct. 4 - Dec. 15, 2019.