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Interconnected Artist Spotlight: Julia Im

Artist Statement

Minhwa is a Korean art form that I practice to express love to my children and to wish health, peace, stability, freedom, and happiness on others. Minhwa is a type of Korean art that was painted by common folk in the past. People painted to wish for fairness, dream, love, freedom, happiness, health, etc. in their lives. Minhwa uses 5 colours: yellow, blue, white, red, and black to express jewel-like colours given to us by our ancestors. 

I believe my paintings express a reappearance of minhwa (folk art): a pair of birds enjoying flowers; water and rocks; a beautiful phoenix that brings hope.  

Brief History of Chinese and Korean Minhwa:

Mainland China is geographically and historically a large country made up of many ethnic minorities. Historically, Chinese minhwa delves into courage, adversity and hardship, wisdom, and adventure. As well, there are many depictions of mystical and sacred gods from all around Mainland China, such as dragons. The wonders of nature are one with them in the paintings. On the other hand, Korea is a small country surrounded by three bodies of water that was invaded multiple times by China and Japan. During these invasions, the common people hoped for peace. Their life and hope for peace was expressed through minhwa paintings to show family longevity and prosperity.

Artist Biography

Julia was born in South Korea and graduated with a fine arts education degree from Gyeongin National University of Education. Afterwards, she was an art teacher in middle school. Korean middle school’s art curriculums are heavily focused on theory and European art history. Due to that, she was more exposed to European art style and techniques when teaching her students to paint. 

In early 2000, her life completely changed. She got married and had three beautiful children. With young children and responsibilities, her career had to go on pause. Also, she made up her mind to move to Vancouver for her children’s education and to become a full-time mother to support them. While she was supporting her kids, she had opportunities in Vancouver to see Aboriginal, Chinese, Japanese, and Canadian art, which helped widen her perspective on fine art. 

In 2019, she was able to resume her career with her family’s support. The support meant so much to her and she wanted to express her passion and roots through one of Korea’s art styles called minhwa. She mainly focuses on painting flowers, birds, and butterflies to wish health, peace, stability, and happiness. If you would like to see more of her work and journey as a minhwa artist, you can visit her website: