Ehja was born in South Korea into a family that naturally took to the arts. Her father was an organist at their church while her mother led the family to frequent tours of museums and galleries. From this ideal context, she entered her married life with a husband who is equally supportive. She enjoys this opportunity to enter her profession with a prime condition of working daily in her studio.
She begins her daily work with prayer and meditation with a routine task of applying gesso on raw canvas, painting abstract images on canvases, or cutting and layering translucent colored rice papers creating small collages. This is her time of centering, acclimating her senses with materials, technique and visual elements. When in tune with heightened awareness to respond fully and directly, she proceeds to work on surfaces of unfamiliar shape and larger scale. The canvas space becomes filled with illuminating colors, which has always been her primal element. With combination of transparent, translucent colors, relationship of hues and a balance of interacting colors she establishes a complex visual language and vocabulary. She realizes that juxtaposition, size and position of colors affect the language of color. This creative process of discovering color relationships that best articulates her feelings becomes her daily routine.
Ehja works directly from her visual experience with Nature as well as more abstract internal imaginative mental images not consciously realized before the moment. Her vision evolves from experiencing the secret meaning and value of Nature and recognizing the aesthetic potential of such an experience.
Ehja relates to the outside world of landscape, empathetic with celestial space and light, speed and distance of movement, power of elemental forces and phenomena of change. Drawing physical objects with contour line as the eye sees the natural form is a Western technique. Human beings from childhood have a capacity for pattern recognition by specific line of vision along the periphery. However, she rarely separates the steps of first outlining a shape and then filling it with color. Fingers, hand, and tools draws and paints the shape and mass simultaneously, and the forms evolves naturally without any reference to the object. With her early discipline in writing Chinese pictographic symbols, she has learned to configure abstractly, for example, a symbol of a tree out of composite straight and curved lines. Abstract image in her paintings suggests an element of familiarity whereby the onlooker can freely create one’s own reference and specificity.
Ehja’s day in the studio is a time to initiate a more sincere search and response detached from ordinary social pressures and stimuli. Now residing in the United States for over 25 years, Western art has had a profound effect on Ehja’s art. Living as a middle-class American family has permitted extraordinary privacy and freedom. Increase in opportunities and freedoms led her to question and overcome the need to work in a certain prevailing style, and that both the heart and head is essential in the making of art. “I want to know the history of contemporary American art to intelligently guide and form my own direction. I am learning that color power evolves through my controlling its relationship and interaction of colors. Being unfamiliar with the function of black and white, I have long ignored its use. Now, I am realizing that neutral colors can magnify the intensity or saturation of hue. Smaller amount of bright orange surrounded by neutral colors can appear even brighter.” Painting has become a search for connections, web of visual elements related to and influenced by, and influence all of the others. Ehja finds great joy and excitement in learning, which compensates for many long hours in the studio alone.
She maintains a reasonable social connection through conducting private art lessons for students in her studio. Her involvement in the International Exchange Show in Japan and Thailand has opened up a venue for her to meet other artists and establish continual interactions. Similarities, differences, and clarification of one’s own direction can be perceived by the works of others. In this new era of alienation of a technological society, she needs to create her own goals for personal development. As a first-generation family, her family has worked hard to attain freedom from want and economic security. Only now is she able to meet the concern of harmonious integration of self and a more complete development of her talent and ability to uncover her fullest potential. Painting for Ehja is truly an act of inward and passionate commitment.