VisArts Presents Julia Kwon Never Mere Ornament

By Editorial Team on April 11, 2022

Sun, 10 April 2022 - Sat, 30 April 2022

Courtesy of VisArts.

VisArts, in partnership with Federal Realty Investment Trust (Federal Realty) is pleased to present Julia Kwon’s Never Mere Ornament in the 355 POD Space Gallery through April 30 (viewable 24/7 from the sidewalk and street).

Julia Kwon sews interpretative bojagi – Korean object-wrapping cloths historically created since the early Joseon Dynasty – and wrap hollow human-scaled figures with them to comment on the objectification of Asiatic female bodies. She creates color gradients that turn to white to comment on erasure and whitewashing. Korean textiles are not only created through sewing and manipulating fabric to suggest a trapped, exoticized female body, but also invented by overloading the textiles with patterns that are perceived as Korean.

The human-scale figures are wrapped like an object with overtly colorful textiles to express the embodied experience, and both the gravity and absurdity of objectification. The one-dimensional way she is seen is imposed upon her. However, the fabrics are not only covering, blocking, and suffocating, but also protecting, hiding, and mystifying the body.

The work is inspired by Kwon’s experience of being seen as “the other.” She aims to capture the tension that arises from the divide between different social groups and the mindset of “us versus them.”

The textiles Kwon creates symbolize constructed notions of what it means to be Korean. Her work is not simply a representation of minority identities, but rather a commentary on the dehumanizing process of being identified, reduced, and categorized. She shifts the focus from the search for authentic origins and clear categories to the complexities of constructing identities within the context of globalism, cultural hybridity, intersectionality, and the collective struggle for social justice.

About Julia Kwon

Julia Kwon is an interdisciplinary artist whose work is in the permanent collection of the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum (Washington, D.C.); Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum (New York, N.Y.); the Museum of International Folk Art (Santa Fe, N.M.); and The New York Public Library (New York, N.Y.). She has exhibited nationally at venues including the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art, the Peale at Carroll Mansion, the University of Rochester’s Hartnett Gallery, and Torpedo Factory Art Center. Her work has been featured and reviewed internationally by Smithsonian Magazine, The Washington Post,, BmoreArt, PBS’ WETA Arts, and SBS World News. Kwon was awarded artist residencies at Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, Vermont Studio Center, NARS Foundation, Textile Arts Center, and Chautauqua School of Art, among others. ​She holds an M.F.A. from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University and a B.A. in Studio Art from Georgetown University.

About VisArts

VisArts, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, is a hub for the visual arts that engages nearly 30,000 visitors annually through contemporary art exhibitions, a studio artist program, art classes and camps, VisAbility Art Lab (a supported studio for artists with disabilities), community art programs, the annual Rockville Arts Festival, and event space. Founded in 1987, VisArts is committed to our mission of transforming individuals and communities through the visual arts.

VisArts is in Rockville Town Square, three blocks from the Rockville Metro station, at 155 Gibbs Street, Rockville, Md. Galleries are open Wednesday-Thursday/Saturday-Sunday, 12-4 p.m. and Friday, 12-8 p.m. Exhibitions are free and open to the public. Visit or call 301.315.8200 for more information.

About the 355 POD Space Gallery

Since 2017, VisArts and Federal Realty have partnered to provide opportunities for local artists to bring their ideas to life with site-specific art installations at the 355 POD Space Gallery.

Directions to the 355 POD Space Gallery from VisArts: Exit VisArts and turn right on Gibbs Street. Turn right on Beall Avenue. Turn right on Hungerford Drive (Route 355). Walk past CVS. The 355 POD Space Gallery is on your right, just after the entrance to the parking garage.

About Federal Realty Investment Trust

Federal Realty Investment Trust is a recognized leader in the ownership, operation and redevelopment of high-quality retail-based properties located primarily in major coastal markets from Washington, D.C. to Boston as well as San Francisco and Los Angeles. Founded in 1962, Federal Realty’s mission is to deliver long term, sustainable growth through investing in densely populated, affluent communities where retail demand exceeds supply. Federal Realty’s 104 properties include approximately 3,000 tenants, in 24 million square feet, and over 2,600 residential units. For additional information about Federal Realty and its properties, visit