Everyday Evocative: Paige Jiyoung Moon

Something about Paige Jiyoung Moon’s (NAP #109) paintings stays with you. They are colorful, inviting, and familiar – and in them Moon captures her everyday experiences and environments in a way that is playful and realistic.

It isn’t her style that is particularly naturalistic though, it is her subject matter. Her style is slightly exaggerated in perspective, as she often places viewers so that it feels as if we are hovering above the scene, looking down on it from afar.  Her paintings make me consider memories and memory-making – how we experience a day, how we remember it, and how we reconstruct it in our minds. 

On the converse of the everyday, though, Moon also creates a dreamlike quality in her work, because as we hover over images of her painted memories – of a screen printing class, or a hike through Sequoia, or a weekend hotel stay – it conjures a memory-bank full of my own recollections from such classes, hikes, and trips.  It is personal and voyeuristic, everyday and evocative, and ephemeral eye candy that leaves me wanting to spend a day in the life of (or with) Moon. – Ellen C. Caldwell, Los Angeles Contributor

Paige Jiyoung Moon | Printshop, Acrylic on wood panel, 14"x 11," 2013.

Paige Jiyoung Moon | Joshua tree hiking, Acrylic on wood panel, 18"x 14,” 2013.

Ellen Caldwell: I really love your acrylic paintings…they capture a certain playfulness of the everyday and also certain realness.  Can you tell me a little bit about your pieces and process?

Paige Jiyoung Moon: When I hang out with my friends, I look around the environment where I am and imagine it as a painting. There are certain times that make me feel like I want to remember everything around me like colors, furniture, and people in the environment. I think of those days and some funny happenings that make me laugh. Later, I start sketching on papers to see compositions and details. I try to convey a moment to a similar visual image, but I change if I want to.

Paige Jiyoung Moon | Fish camp night,  Acrylic on wood panel, 10"x 8," 2013.

EC: In your NAP artistst statement, you say that your paintings are based on your "daily adventures" and that they're "like looking at an open diary."  I really love this sentiment and the idea that you are capturing your personal and intimate moments with your friends in a way that can then be shared. ("Fish camp night," for instance, looks just like captured hotel memories and moments I think we have all had with friends, right down to the bottle of Chuck Shaw wine…) Has this always been your subject?  And what inspired you to want to capture these moments?

PJM: I don't always put a specific thing in my painting but there are few things that are in my paintings most of time. Two of them are wine and tomatoes because the subject matters of my work are very personal, so the details of my paintings can be things I like or I have.

For “Fish Camp Night,” I was so excited about hiking the next day in Yosemite (I love hiking and I always wanted to go to Yosemite National park and I was there!), so I wanted to enjoy the night with my friend but she was just texting and not really talking to me. So, I was like, “I will remember this night!” After we came back, I started sketching the painting of the night: me and her doing very different things in a room.

Paige Jiyoung Moon | A couple, Acrylic on wood panel, 8"x 10," 2013.

EC: Do you paint from photographs or your memory?  And either way, are you thinking about the moment translating to a painting while it is happening?

PJM: When I started painting “Fish Camp Night,” I didn't have many photos for references. I didn’t think that I was going to paint so I only had two pictures of the room. After that painting, I try to take photos or to remember the atmosphere and colors as much as I can while it is happening even though I might not paint later. Sometimes I forget about taking photographs but if I want to paint that moment, then I have to work from my memory to translate it to a painting. I think doing either, using photos for references or not, doesn't really matter even if the painting will look different – because it is still about my adventure.

Paige Jiyoung Moon | Sequoia hiking day, Acrylic on canvas, 8"x 8," 2013.

Paige Jiyoung Moon | Acupuncture, Acrylic on wood panel, 24"x 20,” 2014.

EC: What are you currently working on and does it differ much from these earlier works?

PJM: I am currently working on a painting “Acupuncture.” It is the scene from the days after I went to Sequoia National Park for hiking. I had so much pain in my knees so I had to go acupuncture. It was a Chinese acupuncture place. It was very interesting to me looking at all the medicine drawers with Chinese letters and acupuncture tools for needles and cupping therapy. Later, I was thinking of the next painting after “Good Bye Sequoia Night,” and I thought it would be fun painting to follow that moment.

Paige Jiyoung Moon | My room, Acrylic on wood panel, 26"x 21.5," 2013.


Paige Jiyoung Moon was born in Seoul, Korea. She studied illustration at Art Center College of Design and currently lives in Pasadena, California.

Ellen C. Caldwell is an LA-based art historian, writer, and editor.


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