Accolades pour in for alumnus Chul Hyun Ahn ’02. Not only is his work exhibited across the world and admired in private collections, but Baltimore magazine named the South Korean native “Best Artist” in its 2013 Best of Baltimore issue. In issuing the award, Baltimore magazine called his potential “limitless” and pointed out that Ahn has been compared to such artists as Dan Flavin and James Turrell.
Since graduating from MICA, Ahn has shown his work regularly at the C. Grimaldis Gallery in Baltimore, as well as internationally in both Germany and Paris. In 2013, he also exhibited in the Venice Biennale. This year, domestically, he participated in the Houston Fine Arts Fair, and Ahn’s Perceiving Infinity exhibition will run at the Academy Art Museum in Easton, Maryland, through the end of January.
For Ahn, it has often felt like a whirlwind. “It’s all been exciting but also a little overwhelming,” Ahn said.
His fascination with art goes back to high school. He first explored his interest by pursuing a BFA from Chugye University for the Arts in Seoul, Korea.
“I’ve always been interested in minimalist art,” he said. While his exploration of art started with painting, it eventually evolved into sculptural light constructions. Ahn creates sculptures using light, color, and illusion to represent the mysteries of infinite space. He uses electrical light sources, such as light emitting diodes (LEDs) and black lights set between mirrors. When he places lights between two reflective surfaces, he comes away with a sculpture that creates the illusion of an infinitely reflecting light.
Through his work, Ahn intends for his audience to contemplate the potential one has for both physical and spiritual travel through the exploitation of the illusion of infinity and that of emptiness.
One of his creations that best reflects those themes is the body of work titled Mirror Drawings, released in 2011, which consists of drawings scratched into the back of a mirror to create line-based abstract images.
Ahn said MICA’s Mount Royal School of Art program helped him to evolve as an artist, particularly as his growing interest in sculpture was concerned.
“MICA’s program was great for me,” Ahn said. “It was a perfect program to help me change from a painter to 3D sculpture work that allowed me to make whatever I wanted to make. Faculty members were also very helpful.”
Though Ahn’s list of career accomplishments is a long one, he believes that his greatest accomplishment lies not in any one exhibition or accolade. Rather, he’s most proud of the fact that he has been able to create a successful career as a full-time artist while disproving the stereotype that artists live a life of financial struggle.
“Many people say you’re going to be very hungry if you study art,” Ahn said. “I’m not that hungry so I’m very proud of that. The best thing is that I’m living a life in which I am able to do whatever I want to do.”
This page was last updated on 03/22/2017.