About The Artist

Yeonmi Ahn I was born and raised in South Korea. I studied for many years with Hyunkye Cho, a South Korean watercolor master, continuing my training in drawing and painting until my last year of high school. When it came time to go to university, however, I could not persuade my parents to let me pursue an art degree. Instead, I studied politics and diplomacy at Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea, and subsequently (to the best of my knowledge), became the first Korean woman to receive a Ph.D. in political science at Yale University in New Haven, CT.  After a Research Fellowship at the Brookings Institution, working at the Library of Congress, teaching at Indiana University as a visiting scholar and staying at home to bring up children, I moved to the Philadelphia area of Pennsylvania in 2006. With the change, I returned to my childhood dream of becoming a painter.

For the first few years thereafter, I studied with Laurie Daddona, Karen Fogarty and Kashim Amoudi to broaden my artistic horizons. Until 2013, I had been a member of Philadelphia/Tri State Artist Equity, ARTsisters, the Delaware Valley Art League and PAC (Philadelphia Arts Connection) and an associate member of the Philadelphia Watercolor Society. I have participated in many art shows in the Philadelphia area.  In 2014, starting to run a small real estate investment company, I turned to painting part time, keeping only the memberships with Artsisters and PAC.

I work with acrylic, watercolor and oil pastel. Most recently, I have been experimenting with various mixed media techniques. I have also been trying to combine Western painting methods with techniques of oriental paintings in some of my flower and experimental paintings. In addition, I paint portraits of homes on commission.

I paint things and events around me—ordinary things that evoke a strong emotional response in me. My English, as a second language, is neither eloquent nor fluent enough to fully express what my mind sees; and my native Korean, now rusty from 30 years of self-imposed exile, has long ceased to be my primary means of communication. Like Edward Hopper, I paint what I can’t put into words. I have recorded flowers for the fleeting beauty that I saw when they were presented to me, for my emotional responses to them, and in memory of the giver’s love, generosity and care. I paint the memories and responses to certain events that I find impossible to verbalize.

At present, I am working on two different series of paintings. The first series, tentatively titled God, Goddess and Human Affairs, explores the intersections of love, sex and religions in individual lives. Some of the paintings included in the Figures album are part of the series.  The second, tentatively titled Four Seasons, uses various approaches to memories of my childhood hometown in South Korea and other places where I’ve lived and traveled. Some of the paintings included in the Abstract & Experimental and Landscape albums belong to the series.