Ran Hwang

Of Buttons and Pins
Empty Me
Garden of water 6 panels , beads, crystal pins
Two Love Tree,
Ran Hwang
Healing Blossoms_GWJ
Healing Blossoms II _TWJ
Healing Blossoms I _TWJ
Healing Blossom 1
Healing Blossoms 2

About The Artist

Ran Hwang graduated with a Bachelor in Fine Arts from the School of Visual Arts, New York, and subsequently went on to attain her Masters Degree in Fine Arts at the Graduate School of Arts Chung-Ang University in Seoul, Korea. This Korean-born artist currently resides and practices her craft in New York, and is best-known for creating intricate, large-scale wall installations with exquisite materials from the fashion industry such as beads, buttons, pins and thread.  

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To the artist, buttons and beads symbolize the commonplace ordinariness of human beings; pins being the points of connection, and threads as a communicative link. Using a hammer to pound thousands of pins into walls in the process of her art, Ran Hwang herself projects the austere embodiment of a monk practicing spiritual discipline and Zen. This repetitive and laborious working process results in grandiose images of objects and beings, representing the natural and divine, in an attempt to address current social issues. Through her works, she constantly seeks to explore and delve into human experiences and connections, as well as positive and negative spaces. For the past decade, her works have been exhibited in both solo and group exhibitions across the globe in countries such as Korea, Switzerland, USA and France, and are collected by distinguished hotels, museums and companies including the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Hong Kong, the Shin Choi Fashion Company in New York, and the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Seoul.  

Ran Hwang has completed several residencies such as at the Performance Space Studio Residency Program in 2011; the AAI-Artist Alliance, Lower East Side-Rotating & Long Term Studio Program in 2006; as well as the Full Fellowship, Vermont Studio Center Residency Program, Vermont, U.S.A in 2004. Her works have been awarded the Gold Prize at the AHL Foundation Annual Arts Competition, New York in 2004; the Kyung-In Art Grand Exhibition at Puchun City Museum, Korea in 1996, and the Korean Water Watercolor Public Subscription Exhibition, Cultural Art Promotion House Art Hall, Seoul in 1995.

At first glance, simplicity may seem to define her work, but simplicity is merely a thin veil over an intricate and thoughtful process resulting in an alluring and seductive body of work. Ran Hwang uses buttons, or threads, with pins to produce provocative images of vessels, of birds and of the Buddha both as installations and as objects on their own. Her practice speaks to the meditative nature that a repetitive process inspires where the experience of the work cannot be separated from its materiality and how it is made. In her most recent series, Hwang reflects on the nature of the vessel. As she explains, "Containers can be empty or serve to contain something. Like our bodies, they can be filled or emptied." Her works can be seen as a contemplation of impermanence and mortality. The strength of Hwang's work is in its process and the resulting immediacy and resonance with the viewer.

Hwang constructs the complex textuality of her works with simple, everyday objects, such as buttons, pins and threads, and, by recontextualizing them, they are transformed and seen anew. Because they have been removed from their recognizable, functional context into an unconventional one, they create a visuality that is tactile, and call upon a mimetic knowledge that becomes re-experienced in their presence. Her objects offer a familiar site in which to delve deeper in order to generate reflection, and even wonder. For Hwang, contemplating and representing a larger wholeness bring a sense of peace. The process of constructing these works is an object of meditation for Hwang.

One way to approach Hwang's work is by considering the Buddhist ideas of the interdependence of form and emptiness, in other words, form is emptiness, and emptiness is nothing other than form. In the case of Hwang, this concept can be seen in the interdependence of negative and positive space. The self (body and mind) depend on all that is not-self, just as the vessel's form depends on the space around it. Similarly, a vessel's usefulness depends on the interplay of form and emptiness.

Artist Statement

"I create large icons such as a Buddha or a traditional vase, using materials from the fashion industry. The process of building large installations is time consuming and repetitive and it requires manual effort which provides a form of self-meditation. I hammer thousands of pins into a wall like a monk who, facing the wall, practices Zen. My works are divided into two groups. In the first, pins used to hold buttons remain free to move and suggest the genetic human tendency to be irresolute. I choose the material of buttons, which are as common and ordinary as human beings. In the second group of works, a massive number of pins connects yards of thread creating a negative space of the presented images, threads suggesting connections between human beings and a communication network between seemingly un-linked human experiences. The filled negative space in the absence of positive space suggests mortality at the heart of self-recognition."

Selected Collections

Des Moines Art Centre, Des Moines, IA  

Brooklyn Museum, New York  

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel, Hong Kong  

The Peninsula Hotel, Shanghai  

Shin Choi Fashion Company, New York  

National Museum of Contemporary Art, Art Bank, Seoul, Korea  

HANEZA Itariana, Fashion Company, Seoul, Korea  

Hammond Museum, New York

Selected Awards

 PS122 STUDIO Residency Program, New York  

AAI-Artist Alliance, Lower East Side-Rotating & Long Term Studio Program, New York  

Full Fellowship, Vermont Studio Center Residency Program, Vermont, U.S.A  

Gold Prize, AHL Foundation Annual Arts Competition, New York  

Gold Prize, Korean Watercolor Public Subscription Exhibition, Cultural Art Promotion House Art Hall, Seoul, Korea        
Art World Grand Prix, Kyung-In Art Museum, Seoul, Korea



Selected Solo Exhibition

Leila Heller Gallery, New York  

Asian Art Works, 789 Beijing  

Leila Heller Gallery, New York  

Hakgojae Gallery, Seoul, Korea  

Kashya Hildebrand Gallery, Zurich, Switzerland   

ACAF (Asian Contemporary Art Fair ), Pier92, New York  

2X13 Gallery, Seoul, Korea  

Hass Gallery, Bloomsburg University, PA  

Open Studio, Vermont Studio Art Center, Jonson Vermont U.S.A  

Hutchins Gallery, Long Island University, New York 
Hudson River Gallery, New York
Yee Mook Gallery, Seoul, Korea   

Hudson River Gallery, New York  

Artsnal Gallery, Paris  

Hudson River Gallery, New York 

Selected Two-Person Exhibitions

Refresh!, 2x13 Gallery, New York           
When Art Encounters Fashion, Space Shin Choi, New York 

Selected Group Exhibitions

Freedom: Just another word for…,Kidspace@ Mass Moca, North Adams, MA              
Transparencies: Contemporary Art and A History of Glass, Des Moines Art Center Main Gallery, Des Moines, IA          
The Armory Show, Window Project-Leila Heller Gallery, NY  

Media Variegations, Asian Art Works, 798 Beijing           
L'Asie en Vogue Exhibition, Pagoda Paris, France           
Peekskill Project V, HVCCA-Hudson Vally Center for Contemporary Art, NY           
South Hampton Art Fair, Leila Heller Gallery, New York           
Conference of Birds, CYNTHIA-REEVES Projects (C-R P), Mana Contemporary, New Jersey           
Art Dubai, Kashya Hildebrand Gallery, United Arab Emirates           
FIFTH ANNUAL QUEENS ART EXPRESS, Jamaica Center for Arts & Learning, Jamaica, Queens NY           
VIP Art Fair 2.0, Leila Heller Gallery, New York   

Aha Moment!, Hangaram Art Museum, Seoul Art Center, Seoul, Korea           
AHL Foundation Annual Auction, Lehmann Maupin Gallery, New York          
Sofia International Paper Art Biennale 2011, Sofia, Bulgaria          
SCOPE Basel 2010, Kashya Hildebrand Gallery, Basel, Switzerland          
Art Paris Just Art!, Kashya Hilderbrand Gallery, Paris           
Art Dubai 2011, Kashya Hildebrand Gallery, United Arab Emirates          
Finding Flow, Jeju Museum of Art, Jeju Island, Korea          
Art Stage Singapore, Kashya Hildebrand Gallery, Singapore           
India Art Summit, Kashya Hildebrand Gallery, New Delhi, India  

ART ASIA MIAMI, Kashya Hildebrand Gallery, Miami, USA          
KUNST10, Kashya Hildebrand Gallery, Zurich, Switzerland          
AHL Foundation, Gala Auction, Arario Gallery, New York          
B.I.E.N.N.A.L.E + ONE, Kwang-ju, Korea          
Fokus Lodz Biennale 2010, Lodz, Poland          
KIAF 2010, Kashya Hildebrand Gallery, Seoul, Korea          
ART TAIPEI 2010, Kashya Hildebrand Gallery, Taiwan          
SCOPE Basel 2010, Kashya Hildebrand Gallery, Basel, Switzerland          
Art HK10, Hong Kong International Art Fair, Kashya Hildebrand Gallery, Hong Kong          
Art Dubai 2010, Kashya Hildebrand Gallery, United Arab Emirates  

Kaleidoscope, Kashya Hildebrand Gallery, Zurich, Switzerland           
Beginning of New Era, National Museum of Contemporary Art, Seoul          
KIAF (Korea International Art Fair), COEX, Hakgojae Gallery, Seoul          
Triple of Light, mnav (Museo Nacional de Artes Visuales), Uruguay          
Art Dubai 2009, Kashya Hildebrand Gallery, United Arab Emirates
Art Asia, Kashya Hildebrand Gallery, Miami          
ACAF (Asian Contemporary Art Fair), Pier 92, Special Exhibition- You in a Red Chamber, I Journey West,, New York          
Art Paris Abu Dhabi, Emirates Palace, Kashya Hildebrand Gallery, Abu Dhabi         
KIAF (Korean International Art Fair), COEX, 2x13 Gallery, Seoul          
Facial of Art- 20 Years Anniversary exhibition, Seoul Art Center Museum, Seoul  

Asian Contemporary Art Fair, Special Exhibition-Simulasian, Pier 92, New York          
Incarnation, Hammond Museum, New York           
Drawing the Line - Against Domestic Violence-Auction, The Metropolitan Pavilion, New York          
Woman in Love, Tenri Gallery, New York           
Mi Art Fair, Milan, Italy  

Queens International 2006, Queens Museum of Art, New York           
Funsters, Seoul Art Center Museum, Seoul Korea.           
Affordable Art Fair New York City 2006, The Metropolitan Pavilion, New York           
Drawing the Line - Against Domestic Violence-Auction, Helen Mills Theater, New York           
City Art Auction, Chelsea Art Museum, New York          
Asian Art Works, Silent Auction, Helen Mills Theater, New York  

The Artville, 2x13 Gallery, New York           
Joy, Arts and Gallery, Milan Italy          
Contemporary Asian artists, Hammond museum, New York          
Beyond Acculturation, Stimulus, Response and Mutual Benefit, Tenri Gallery, New York          
Eight Korean Artists, 2004/2005: AHL Foundation Visual Arts Competition Winners, White Box, New York  

Night of 1000 Drawings, Artist Space, New York          
Green Light, Korean Cultural Service-Gallery Korea, New York          
Dumbo Arts Under the Bridge Festival, Dumbo Arts Center, New York          
The 1st Keum Kang International Nature Arts Biennale-Special Exhibition, GongJoo, Korea          
The Repetition, Gana Insa Art Center, Seoul, Korea          
Generation 1.0, Representing 100years of Korean Immigration, Korean Cultural Service, Washington D.C.