New Mexico journey: Paintings by Mi Ra Won

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South Korean artist will do a solo show at Mesa Public Library in January

By Special to the Monitor

Mi Ra Won, born in Seoul, South Korea, said she wanted to be an artist since she was five years old, and her dream has never changed.
In January, others will see the result of that dream as Won has a solo show of her impressionist oil and watercolor paintings in the Mesa Public Library Art Gallery. A public reception will be from 4-5:30 p.m. Jan. 7 in the Mesa Public Library’s upstairs gallery.
Won, who holds a masters degree in painting and was a middle school art teacher in Korea for several years, credits her commitment to art to her high school art teacher who became her mentor. She began using charcoal and pastel, finding the soft lines and color appealing, but switched as a university student to very large-scale, vibrantly colored paintings to  boldly express her newly found Christian faith.
Two children kept Won very busy for 20 years until three years ago when, because of her husband’s job, her family moved to Los Alamos and she began painting once more. “When I started painting again, I felt a strong creative energy that needed to be expressed,” Won said. “Sometimes I went to Santa Fe to see the works in galleries. The landscape and adobe houses of Santa Fe were very attractive to me. I was surprised by the way the curved lines of the adobe houses were accented by the snow.”
Her artistic journey continued as she explored new subject matter.
“My new subjects were my family, friends, flowers and landscapes, which I had never painted before. Last year I realized that my artistic talent came from God and it was my responsibility to use it,” Won said. “This was a turning point in my life. In the past I tried to speak to others through my painting. Now I paint my subjects as I see them and let the art speak for itself. Before I tried to shout at people through my paintings. Now I am content to speak quietly.”
Won has pursued her interest in art through studio and art history classes at The University of New Mexico-Los Alamos.
She has shown her work in South Korea and locally, winning the first place juror’s award in the Impressionism in New Mexico Exhibition at Fuller Lodge Art Center.
Won’s  exhibition at Mesa Public Library will display most of the work she has done since moving to America, reflecting both her artistic and spiritual journey.
Won will host a gallery talk from 3:45-4:45 p.m. Jan. 14.
The exhibit will be on view Jan. 5-Jan. 28 during regular library hours: 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday; and noon-5 p.m. Sunday.

If you go

What: Public
When: 4-5:30 p.m. Jan. 7
Where: Mesa
Public Library,
upstairs gallery