Dorothy M. Yoon Solo Exhibitions

“8 of Heroines”

Date: 4 July – 2 August 2009
Venue: Andrew James Art, 39 Maoming Bei Lu, Shanghai, China

Growing up in Korea Dorothy dreamed of being one of the blonde haired, blue-eyed beauties she admired on the covers of Western magazines. In an attempt to live out her fantasy she creates light-hearted and heavily stylised images of young Asian girls enhanced to fit this agenda. Combining the extremely different Eastern and Western cultures in her art she attempts to make her audience question their preconceptions. In addition, Yoon’s work is intricate in detail with many layers of meaning. Months of research into every aspect ensure that nothing you see is without significance.

Dorothy presents eight blonde fairy tale heroines from the stories of the Brother’s Grimm, ranging from Rapunzel, Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood to Sleeping Beauty. Yoon specifically chose the number eight because in the Taoist faith it is seen to represent rebirth and relaxation as God rested on the eighth day after creating the world. This mixing of Western culture and Eastern religion is the axis of Yoon’s work.

The landscape is based upon an old Korean painting Called, ‘Mong you do won do’ dating back to 1447 representing a Utopian peach forest as seen in a dream by a Korean Prince, an ideal setting for the heroines of our Western Fairytales. It was created on the complex 3D Max computer programme onto which each story is layered on top. Within the panorama we are taken on many journeys, for example, through the seasons (spring to spring) and a single day (morning to evening). Also geographically as we start with a simple village and are led through mountain ranges, oceans and finally settle in a Utopian futuristic city.


All of the costumes were designed by Dorothy and are based on traditional Korean dress and fashioned from authentic fabric. As with every aspect of her work each tiny detail has been thought about and holds its own meaning; for example, each earring is symbolic to each model, Gretel has a gingerbread house and Rapunzel the Tower.


Eagle eyed viewers will notice tiny aeroplanes worked into the accessories of each girl. Dorothy explains that as a child she was fascinated with planes as they were the key to making dreams come true; flying was a way to access unexplored worlds where her blonde haired blue-eyed fantasies were reality.

Each character is surrounded by miniature images of the secondary characters from their specific tale. Dorothy has fun with these giving them masks to add to the drama, for example the Little Mermaid’s prince is Prince William while Rapunzel’s parents are David and Victoria Beckham. Even the animals are utilized in this fashion, Red Riding Hood’s wolves are wearing Pokemon outfits and the three little pigs are presented as Charlie’s Angels. Again, Dorothy is morphing together the popular culture of the two worlds.

Nature is a prominent feature in Dorothy’s work, mainly through beautifully detailed flowers. But nothing is arbitrary as each single blossom holds its own meaning. For example, a peony flowers in spring but also its luscious layers of petals signify the bringing of wealth. In addition, the lotus flower is important within Buddhism as it shows that beauty can be born out of dirty water.

The artworks of the European Old Masters were also of great inspiration to Dorothy. Months of research into the significance of each posture and hand gesture within these paintings are evident in the characters of her work and can be attributed to different paintings from the Le Musee de Louvre in Paris.