What it means to be a Vermont artist

Misoo Filan
Image courtesy of Misoo Filan
Artist Misoo Filan includes self-portraits, such as this one, in her “The Giantess” series.
The Giant Asian Girl- Misoo, acrylic painting and collage on panel, 36” x 48”

Misoo Filan of Shelburne is one of the 23 artists exhibiting at the Vermont Arts Council’s Spotlight Gallery in “I AM . . .”, a multimedia exhibition that explores what it means to be a Vermont artist. The show culminates the first year of the “I am a Vermont Artist” e-newsletter series, which documents how artists’ creative expressions reflect their experiences of ethnicity, gender identity, religion, disability or age.

The exhibit features two-dimensional art as well as music and sound, spoken word, poetry, dance and movement within a digital compilation. The opening artists’ reception is Friday, Nov. 8, 5 to 7 p.m.

Misoo graduated with her Master of Fine Arts degree with a concentration on painting from Florida Atlantic University in the spring of 2014. She has exhibited extensively, including shows in Florida, California, Texas and North Carolina as well as in Tel Aviv, Israel.

“I am a Korean American fine artist who paints to celebrate power of minority females living in the U.S. and females who have gone through traumatic past,” said Filan, whose current work is from her “The Giantess” series. 

Misoo said the subjects in her series are “real women, just like those in your own community. They are colleagues, neighbors and friends who, by entrusting their trauma to me, provided me with source material from which to depict each one reborn as a giantess, free of her painful memories and post-traumatic suffering. In the giantess format, female power, self-esteem and agency have been restored, in fact, the sense of power has grown to legendary, ‘super power’ proportions.”

The artist adds that the series encourages women to make no apologies about physically dominating men.

“The Giantess does not seek revenge,” explained Misoo in her artist’s statement. “Rather, her purpose is to provide a release from the realities of gender-based violence and, however momentarily, imagine the freedom of a world devoid of hurtful memories and fear.”

The “I AM . . .” exhibit will run through Dec. 20. The Vermont Arts Council Spotlight Gallery is open to the public and located in the corridor and conference room of the offices at 136 State Street in Montpelier. There are times when the conference room is not available, but the corridor exhibit is open Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Among the other artists participating are François Clemmons, actor, author and activist; Vera Longtoe Sheehan, Abenaki culture bearer, master artist, educator and activist; Mikahely, singer and songwriter; and the slam poets and performance artists Muslim Girls Making Change.

Prior to the opening reception, a panel discussion will be held at 4 p.m. at the Vermont History Museum, 109 State St., Montpelier. The conversation, moderated by Shanta Lee Gander, will explore the ways in which art forms and life experiences inform the exhibitors’ work as Vermont artists.

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