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June 23 – August 6, 2017

Hanbok’s Gifts, an exhibition of sculptural paper works  by Cleveland artist and noted papermaker Aimee Lee, is showcased in the Spotlight Gallery this summer.

A Fulbright scholar, practitioner, and founder of the first Hanji studio in Cleveland, Aimee pays homage to the ingenuity and care behind traditional Korean clothing by using another material from the same heritage, hanji, that requires much discovery and labor to produce.


“Dress has been a significant part of human life through its ability to clothe, express, and signify. It remains a dynamic part of culture that reaches people from monks in prayer to soldiers at war to children in school. My interest in dress is how the material and qualities of handmade paper can be transformed into garments—not necessarily to wear, but to evoke character and capture moods. Though I make paper of all kinds, I am most devoted to hanji, which is Korean paper. Through my study and experimentation with this durable and chameleon-like material, I have also learned about other Korean traditions and history.

“In Korea, the first birthday of a child is occasion for major celebration. Before infant mortality rates decreased, it was common to wait to register a birth until the baby had survived a year. Part of the festivities, aside from great quantities of food, is the costume. My parents still have old photographs of me as a one-year-old rolling on the floor in a brightly colored hanbok, literally “Korean dress” or “Korean clothes.” The most visible parts of this multi-piece garment include a short top jacket and a long skirt that reaches the floor. Men’s hanbok include a jacket and pants, though women used to wear pants as well before the fashions and culture changed. Usually, the next occasion for a ritual hanbok is marriage, marking another significant personal, familial, and community milestone.

“Daily dress was similar but more subdued. Also, the hanbok as we know it now is one of many different kinds of Korean dress. Another is a cheollik, worn by mounted hunters (usually men), a one-piece garment with a pleated skirt that made riding easier and had detachable sleeves that could quickly become bandages to dress wounds. This kind of function within a beautifully proportioned and elegant piece of clothing fascinates me.”  Aimee Lee

The community is invited to learn about the artwork and meet the artist at a public reception on Friday, June 23, 6-9 p.m. The exhibition will be on view through Sunday, August 6.



Images: l. Legend (2016). Dye and pen on hanji, thread. 9.5 x 6.25″. r. Young (2017). Natural dyes, handmade papers, paper yarn, thread. 34 x 38.5



Working Artist Membership programs and spotlight exhibitions are generously supported by the Cyrus Eaton Foundation.
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