This summer, Professor of Art and Architecture Phillia Yi displayed her printwork in a solo exhibition at Czong Institute for Contemporary Art (CICA) Museum in Gimpo, South Korea. The exhibit ran from June 12-23 in the museum’s Flexspace.
Yi creates vibrant abstract woodcuts that, in the words of art critic Ron Netsky, “explore cultural roots that are at once personal and universal.” A native of South Korea, Yi’s work is rooted in Asian printing traditions but includes elements of American abstract expressionism. “Yi’s woodcuts are expressive, colorful and beautifully nuanced symbolic abstractions imbued with an urgency and dynamism rarely matched,” says Netsky.
“My work reflects the day-to-day dilemmas and tension of my multicultural experience,” says Yi. “I bring together in complex relationships abstract imagery with elements that are representational. Both flat and illusory space is created, suggesting an altered sense of time and scale.”
Yi’s woodcuts are made using blocks of mahogany plywood and heavy rag paper. Woodcut images are created by carving an image into a block of wood with chisels and gouges, then covering the wood with ink and pressing it into paper. Areas that have not been carved away hold the ink and transfer it to the paper. The labor-intensive process creates limited iterations of each print.
“I love working with wood, which has a basic human quality that is natural, soft and beautiful as indicated by the pattern and texture of wood grains,” says Yi. “The effects of the plywood impressed onto heavy paper by way of its tactile and textural qualities make the visual experience even richer.”
Yi has been a member of the HWS faculty since 1985. In 1994, she won the HWS Award for Excellence in Teaching. She earned her B.F.A. degree from State University of New York at New Paltz and her M.F.A. from Temple University.
Yi has exhibited her works throughout the United States and in South Korea. She has held solo shows at HWS’ Davis Gallery, University of Rochester’s Rush Rhees Library, Angie Newman Johnson Gallery in Virginia and the Delaware Center for Contemporary Art, among others. She has been featured in group shows at locations including the Seoul Museum of Fine Arts in South Korea, Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester and Dusan Art Center in South Korea. Yi was recently included in, and curated the American delegation of printmakers, in The 2nd Novosibirsk International Triennial of Contemporary Graphic Arts at The State Art Museum in Novosibirsk, Russia, where she also served as a juror.
Founded by sculptor Czong Ho Kim in 1994, CICA Museum is a cultural space that fosters projects for experimental artists and mounts regular exhibits of works by contemporary international artists.