Micki Meng presents the solo exhibition of San Francisco-based multidisciplinary artist Heesoo Kwon on view at the gallery’s Chinatown location. Heesoo Kwon: A Flower Strong in the Wind, honors the artist’s grandmother 김근화 (Geun Hwa Kim) whose name refers to root and flower. Finding poetic resistance through historical interventions of patriarchal tradition and domestic rituals, the exhibition showcases the artist’s autobiographical religion, Leymusoom, rooted in queer, feminist, matrifocal structures, and Korean shamanism.
The series Premolt begins with images from Kwon’s family archives populated by the artist’s sister, mother, and grandmother; an acknowledgment of the artist's matrilineal lineage. Appearing within these images are reptilian figures, the embodiment of Leymusoom, who act as both witnesses and guardians to Kwon’s maternal ancestors. In the Leymusoom universe, Kwon’s figures are in states of metamorphosis, molting their dead skin or shell, to visualize renewed life, liberation, and empowerment. In casting Leymusoom’s snake-like presence, Kwon references two contradicting sources; in Korean shamanism snakes are believed to hold divine powers; and the biblical Book of Genesis, wherein Satan, in the guise of a serpent, tempts Eve to commit humanity’s original sin. Together in a moment, Leymusoom’s communing with Kwon’s female ancestors refracts the past and present to envision a tender and ardent matrifocal reality.
Continuing Kwon’s feminist intervention, A Ritual for Metamorphosis (2023), a new installation, depicts the artist’s avatar inserted into distant home video footage to express the intimate and psychic trauma of domestic patriarchal rituals enforced through religion, culture, and tradition. Entering through a television screen portal, Kwon’s digital avatar – unclothed and unburdened – time travels back to their childhood home and through family gatherings such as weddings and birthdays appearing to disrupt and mock patriarchy while comforting her female ancestors as they enact gendered expectations. In a moment of prescience, a young Kwon is shown holding her grandmother’s hand with one hand, and clutching a videotape with the other, forecasting the artist’s trajectory; synthesizing digital impulses with intimate interpersonal moments to (re)imagine and (re)create a more free and empowered world for both ancestors and future generations.
Heesoo Kwon is a multidisciplinary artist from South Korea currently based in the Bay Area, California. In 2017, Kwon initiated an autobiographical feminist religion Leymusoom as an ever-evolving framework to explore her family histories and communal feminist liberation. Kwon received a Business degree from Ewha Woman's University (BA, 2015) and received the Female Inventor of the Year Award from the Korean Intellectual Property Office in 2012. After realizing herself as a product of Korean patriarchal society and the misogynist commercial field, she started to make art to shed the burden as a Korean woman and redesign her queer feminist life. Kwon received her MFA from the University of California, Berkeley (MFA, 2019). Her work has been exhibited both nationally and internationally throughout the United States, Korea and Europe including BAMPFA, Berkeley; Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology, Berkeley; Ryan Lee Gallery, New York; 47 Canal, New York; Chinese Culture Center, San Francisco; Site Gallery, Sheffield, UK; Blinkers, Winnipeg, Canada and WMA, Hong Kong. Kwon was the Queer|Art|Prize finalist for their recent works in 2021 and the SFMOMA SECA award in 2022 and a recipient of Hewlett 50 for media arts in 2022 and Eureka Fellowship for 2025 by the Fleishhacker Foundation.