2023 SMITHSONIAN VISIONARY ARTISTS

Chunghi Choo – Metal hollowware

World-renowned metalsmith Chunghi Choo, although an extremely versatile artist with significant work in textiles and jewelry, is best known for creating innovative metal artworks using such pioneering techniques as electroforming and electro-applique.  Choo’s lyrical objects are technically and visually compelling, organic and graceful. “I like my hollowware pieces to be used and add pleasure to daily life through heightened sensuousness and a feeling of celebration”, she says.

Born in Korea, Choo’s studies in the philosophy of Oriental art and calligraphy continue to inform her work.  She believes, for example, that the sweeping movements of the calligraphy brush have helped give her work a flowing line of energy. She is Professor Emeritus of the University of Iowa, where she established an internationally prominent metals program, with many of her students going on to achieve critical acclaim as artists in their own right.

Her work can be found in the permanent collections of the Louvre, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Museum of Art and Design in New York, the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, Musee des Arts decoratifs, Paris and the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Mary Lee Hu – Metal jewelry

Known internationally as a masterful and passionate weaver of metal, Mary Lee Hu is described by ceramicist Patti Warashina, who received the Smithsonian Visionary Award in 2020, as being “in a class of her own” whose artistic talents have broadened and enriched the aesthetic of the field of contemporary studio jewelry”.

Beginning in her student days, Hu developed her own technique of using textile methods – looping, wrapping, weaving and most notably twining – to create graceful wearable forms, some representational and some abstract.  She works almost exclusively in gold, and her work reflects a modern sensibility while including the powerful elements of rhythm, repetition and pattern that characterize much ancient and ethnic art.

Beyond making her jewelry, Mary Lee Hu has spent many years teaching contemporary art jewelry, primarily at the University of Washington, where she wrote a curriculum around the global history of body adornment. She is a past President of the Society of North American Goldsmiths and her work is found in the permanent collections of many institutions, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Goldsmiths’ Hall in London, the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum.

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Mary Lee Hu and Chunghi Choo will receive the Smithsonian Visionary Award at the Smithsonian Craft Show on May 3, 2023 at the National Building Museum, Washington, D.C.

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