Sooa Im McCormick is Associate Curator of Korean Art at the Cleveland Museum of Art, where she has worked since 2015. Her research interests include Korean art and architecture from the 1600s to the present as well as the cross-currents in East Asian visual culture from the 1600s to the 1800s. McCormick holds a PhD from the University of Kansas with a dissertation titled “Comparative and Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Chinese and Korean Court Documentary Painting in the Eighteenth Century.” In 2017 she curated the exhibition Chaekgeori: Pleasure of Possessions in Korean Painted Screens. And, her new show titled “Gold Needles: Embroidery Arts from Korea will be on March 8th this year. While pursuing her curatorial career, McCormick remains as a cutting-edge researcher. Her publications include “Re-Reading the Imagery of Tilling and Weaving of Eighteenth-Century Korean Genre Painting in the Context of the Little Ice Age,” in Anthology of Mountains and Rivers (without) End: Eco-Art History in Asia.

Context for Gender and Socio-Economic Diversity in Korean Embroidery of the the Joseon Period (1392-1910).

This presentation explores the issues of gender and socio-economic diversity within the tradition of Korean embroidery through the special exhibition ‘Gold Needles: Embroidery Arts from Korea,’ which I have curated at the Cleveland Museum of Art (from 8 March to 26 July 2020). This show has two goals: to identify how Korean women embroiderers in the 18th and 19th century established their own sophisticated artistic language different from their male counterparts, and to demonstrate embroidery as a media practiced by both women and men, amateurs and professionals, and their collaboration. In the process of highlighting these goals, I have encountered challenges because Korean embroidery has long been interwoven with femininity, amateurism and folkcraft (as an opposite concept to fine art) in the conventional narrative of both Korean art history and exhibitions. I will share a few implemented strategies to overcome biased narratives and to offer Korean embroidery’s new contextual trajectories.