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Artist Profile: Becky Moon on the Power of Perception and Life’s Hidden Beauty

Becky Moon's "Sea of Perception" exhibition.
Becky Moon's "Sea of Perception" exhibition. By Courtesy of Adelaide Koziol

Full of fantastical and colorful figures with distorted proportions performing impossible tasks, Becky Moon’s art, above all else, seeks to challenge and expand the ways her audience sees the world. Moon crafts novel views of life by combining her synesthesia with a love for philosophy.

“Artists are primarily creators of new perception and every piece we create is something that has never been created before,” said Moon, a human rights activist turned artist and curator.

Moon is passionate about using her art to morph everyday sights into entirely new, striking scenes full of imagination and whimsy. She considers it a way of “continuing the human lineage of creativity,” a project shared by all humans across all of time in the hopes of shedding new light on the world. Moon has carved out her own place in this extensive history by exploring the connection between art and philosophy. This abstract link is made visible through her intense synesthesia. As she reads, wild and inventive images take root in her mind — Kant always evokes images of gleaming metal while Hume is purple — which she scribbles on the side to later be developed into more elaborate paintings.

“I believe that when philosophers philosophize there is some kind of original phenomenon that they witness and they transcribe it into words,” Moon said. “And when I paint the words, in the form of a painting, I put back the words into a nonverbal form.”

Even though things change along the way, ultimately her goal remains the same; to capture the essence of that immediate visual sensation and use it to morph reality. The effects of this are profound. Suddenly, even the most mundane objects can appear enchanting and extraordinary.

“Perception is just really magical and we kind of take it for granted,” Moon said.

She describes how, after pursuing art for so long, she can find countless reasons to be excited throughout the day. Anything and everything — from the sun to her teal paint — is magical and beautiful in some unique way. By challenging perception, she is able to see “magic and wonder in everyday objects.”

Her most recent set of artworks focuses almost entirely on asparagus, drawing from a simple memory she had as a child. She recalls how, overcome with emotion at the thought of not being able to eat a flower, her mother soothed her pains by offering a flower that actually was edible: asparagus. It is through this simple yet delightfully tender memory that Moon is able to turn an object as ordinary as a single vegetable into a profound testament to life and love.

However, according to Moon, art’s power goes far beyond simple beauty. During her high school years in South Korea, Moon was heavily involved in political activism and wrote a petition that garnered 60,000 signatures, which eventually helped to pass a South Korean law. Despite her success, she was left wondering if politics was really the only way to enact change and began searching for new ways of shaping the world around her.

“I finally came to knowing that it’s not only the hard powers like laws that change the world — it’s also the soft powers like art, literature, philosophy, and music that really shapes the way you view things.”

With this, Moon began to explore the myriad ways the arts can change people’s lives. Just as she discovered the power of the brush to bring forth new realities, she found a basis for those dreams in philosophy. The frameworks she discovered were as inspiring as they were invigorating. She recalls how existentialism helped her better understand herself and the world, and how struck she was by the assertion that everyone has intrinsic value that can’t be taken away from them.

She uses this in combination with her art to introduce people to new perspectives and new frameworks for understanding their lives. The purpose is not only to render everyday scenes in a new, whimsical beauty, but to encourage them to see the world in a kinder, more optimistic light.

Moon bases her conviction off of her own personal encounter with the destabilizing effect of art. She describes encountering Tracey Emin’s work “Everyone I Have Ever Slept With,” and being taken aback by the seemingly lewd title. However, upon entering the tent, she was greeted with an interior plastered with big block letters that spell out the names of everyone the artist has ever shared a bed with in any manner. Immediately Moon was forced to reconsider her own preconceptions of the title and art more generally.

“That was the moment I realized that arts can really shape how you view things, and I became a more careful person.”

Moon has dedicated herself to sharing this perspective with as many people as possible. In addition to making her own art, she encourages others to make the world a better place through creativity, curating exhibitions through the Artist’s Alliance for Philosophy, an organization committed to bridging the gap between art and philosophy while fostering communication and collaboration. Through this community she has offered a dedicated space to female artists in her “Women in Philosophy” exhibition while encouraging people to find the beauty in their everyday lives with her “Sea of Perception” show.

Moon has demonstrated time and time again the incredible power art can have on our everyday lives. She has committed herself entirely to the pursuit of all that is good and beautiful by creating works that unearth the buried magic of the world while pushing others to discover their own unique perceptions through creativity. Moon is a testament to the often underlooked power of the individual. Even something as simple as a stroke of the brush is enough to conjure up new realities full of love and vitality.

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