Art Mora is an art organization with locations in Chelsea and New Jersey which serves to create a supportive community for young, emerging artists mainly of Asian decent. Through its offers of artist residencies, exhibition programs and arts education, Art Mora provides these artists the ability to develop and expand their works in a setting that encourages experimentation and also seeks to provide direct access to the public and industry professionals. Art Mora is more than just a gallery, it functions also as a platform to inspire discourse. Art Mora is run by Sunny Shin whom I had the pleasure to interview recently about her important role as a facilitator of the arts, her own story as an artist and Art Mora as a whole.
Cara Vincent: Can you tell me a little about your personal journey as an artist?
Sunny Shin: I studied sculpture and art history in Korea. In 2009 I moved to New York and began to work at art galleries. Because I can speak three languages: Chinese, Korean, and English, I worked for Asian-American galleries until I took over Coohaus gallery in 2013. After two years running Coohaus gallery, I changed the name to Art Mora gallery.
CV: How did Art Mora come about? Were you involved from the beginning? Which location came first?
SS: Mora means ‘a village’ in Ancient Korean and there is a town called Mora in Busan, South Korea where I grew up. I’m the sole owner of Art Mora since 2013. I took over the lease of the Chelsea space in 2013, then opened New Jersey branch last year.
CV: Can you go into some details about the programs, residencies and public events you provide?
SS: We have three categories: exhibition program, artist residency program, and education program. For emerging artists in NY and collectors who seek affordable and fresh artworks, we exhibit various contemporary emerging artists’ works. Current exhibition in New York is a solo show by SHU Yongsun who paints historical moments and scenery of the future. In the New Jersey location we are featuring a group show about animal paintings by Jihye Park, Stefanie S. Lee, Jane Park, and Woolga Choi.
Also, we have an artist residency program in our New Jersey branch. Since it just started, we accept only three artists every two months. During the residency program, I bring private collectors, art critics, curators, and public to their studio in order to make more connections within the art world and get more feedback. This is helpful because the New York art scene is so large and hard to break into if you are just emerging.
The education program provides an artist talk, panel discussion, or art tour. Every third week on Thursday, we have an art tour for public. Two upcoming events are “Art Forum by Prof. Inbum Lee” this Saturday in New Jersey, and a talk about “Artist Visa” by Neil Weinrib Law Firm on Saturday the 25th in Chelsea.
CV: Does Art Mora have a defined focus as an art space? For example, would you say Art Mora features mainly socially engaged art?
SS: As you know, the gallery color goes with the owner’s taste and collectors interests. We feature various works from abstract to figurative work, and from acrylic painting to new media video work. There is no limitation but we haven’t shown aggressive performance, violent or sexual contents, and mass construction works.
CV: How do you choose which artists to feature?
SS: There are several conditions for choosing artists. I prefer artists who have a professional attitude, and create high quality finished work. Of course, we need chemistry as well. I visit a lot of studios to see the artwork and meet the artist in person. During the studio visiting, I can feel who I want to work with.
CV: Can you talk a little about the past exhibition, Beyond the Truth?
SS: Beyond the Truth exhibition was a new media installation show by DaeWoon Na. He is a professor of Konkuk University, and he created all artwork during his Art Mora residency program. His artwork is not just painting or sculpture but depended heavily on the sounds, the visual image changes. It depicted the social issue that the facts, all facts, change depending on point of view.
CV: Do you, like many artists and curators I have spoken to recently, feel that art is more relevant now than ever, give the state of political turmoil the world finds itself in?
SS: Of course, art reacts to the moment we live in. Current artist SUH Yongsun depicts the moment of candle protest in South Korea, which will be the most shocking scandal in thirty years of Korean political history. The past exhibition by Daewoon Na talks about the notion of “truth” in our lifes, as well. People change the law which rules them. I believe Art makes people change and people make a better world.
CV: What are some things coming up for you and for Art Mora?
SS: For March, we have big shows by Hyemin Lee. She will unveil her new series of abstract sculpture and video works in both of New York and New Jersey galleries. And then in April, we have an open studio and welcome all to New Jersey. Every month, we have two or three events.
Art Mora has locations in Chelsea and New Jersey and there are always interesting and profound installations from perspectives you may not get anywhere else. You can learn more about current and past exhibitions on the Art Mora website: http://www.artmora.org and Sunny implores you to join their mailing list to keep up to date on what she and the Art Mora crew are up to.
Interview by Cara Vincent
Photographs by Arte Fuse and provided by the gallery