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Ambassador’s Wife Shows Her Art

Posted February. 10, 2006 07:01,   


Lisa Vershbow and her art resemble each other like twins. They are both bright and cheerful.

Vershbow (53, metal artist and jewel designer) is the wife of U.S. ambassador to Korea, and I met her at the U.S. embassy in Jeong-dong, Jung-gu, Seoul on the morning of February 9.

Mrs. Vershbow, with her slim build, short cut hair without waves, and red horn spectacles, looked younger than her age. She kept smiling, conveying cheerful mood, which made a person seeing her feel good. Her works, stored in an attached building of the embassy, have a bright mood just like she does.

Her works are made of light materials such as aluminum and plastics, not expensive jewelry, and display geometrical patterns. Splendid primary colors such as red, green and blue, and leaf designs were outstanding, and a brooch which makes a splattering sound, and a necklace made me enjoy artistic beauty and feel auditory joy at the same time.

Vershbow came to Korea last October with her husband and spends a great deal of her time in her workroom, nowadays. This is because she will unveil her works in earnest through a series of group and private exhibitions beginning this month.

“I will hold my first one-person exhibition at the Sun Gallery in Insa-dong, Jongno-gu for two weeks starting on June 1. I’m so delighted that I was invited to have my private exhibition in spite of my short stay in Korea,” Vershbow said. “Prior to the exhibition, I will exhibit five necklaces at the ‘exhibition of 100 necklaces’ aimed at helping needy neighbors (February 15-27 at the Gangnam Seoul Auction), participate in the industrial arts exhibition sponsored by the Korean Craft Council (March 3-17 at Sun Gallery) and in a group ‘bridge’ exhibition (March 1-13 at the Insa Art Center) for artists from Korea and the U.S.”

Vershbow smiled, saying, “I accepted all the exhibition invitations I have been offered so far because I want to work with the people I meet in Korea as soon as possible.” Her self-chosen theme for the industrial arts exhibition is “humor and humans.” Her selection shows her taste.

“The key word that permeates my outlook on my work is ‘cheerful,’” she said.

Vershbow, who will celebrate her 30th wedding anniversary this June, gained public favor in her exhibitions every time she had them, while living in London, Brussels, and Moscow when her husband started his new posts. What makes her continue her work when she has a hectic schedule as an ambassador’s wife?

“I feel proud of what I do to help my husband as an ambassador’s wife. At the same time, art is always a great tool to express myself and has been a good way to meet people,” she said. “I think if I can share something with people through art, it is really great.”

Though she knew Korean-American artisans in the U.S., this is the first time she has ever lived in Korea, or Asia for that matter. I asked her whether she had ever felt anti-American sentiment in Korea in person.

“Anti-U.S. sentiments exist everywhere in the world,” she said. “But I’ve never had any offensive experiences in Korea.”

While she was living in Moscow, she frequently incorporated Russian pumpkins into her art works. Recently, she has been closely looking at jade. I wonder how Korean materials or traditions will be reflected in her works in the next couple of years.

Mi-Seok Koh mskoh119@donga.com