Nancy Kwon: Agwi

October 1 - December 11, 2021

Agwi is Nancy Kwon’s first-ever solo exhibition.  The title of the exhibition, “Agwi,” is the Korean word for the Blackmouth anglerfish. It is named after a ghost in Korean mythology, which has its origins in Buddhism. An Agwi is a spirit who is suffering in a constant state of hunger because of bad karma, possibly from misdeeds done while they were human. Their living relatives are responsible for comforting them through prayer, rituals, and offerings. To Kwon, this interaction between the living and the dead feels uniquely human, and the association with the deep sea fish serves as a visual reference for her conception of the exhibition.


Pillar for Agwi (2021) was the first piece that Kwon began building for this show. At the time, she had been reading about Göbekli Tepe, a Neolithic archaeological site in present-day Turkey that has been described as the world’s first temple. Looking at the ruins of these prehistoric structures, as well as animal relief imagery and iconography, Kwon felt a gut instinct to build something megalithic. This instinct reflects Kwon’s longstanding interest in the function of ceremonial and ritual objects, alongside learning about human belief systems. Kwon has maintained these interests since she began working in clay, and she views the work for this show as an exercise in the creation of ceremonial and ritual objects and their environments. Kwon believes that there are characteristics innate in certain objects and places that gives us the desire to remain in place or instill in us the longing to return to a place. Kwon writes: “To be a part of the building of these kinds of objects allows me to see my work beyond myself and my life. I reference ancient art and artifacts because I feel it necessary to engage with human history in order to meaningfully take part in creating artifacts for the future.”