Namkung’s Lake Wenatchee can be viewed in the Meditation Room on the Mezzanine.
Namkung’s photography, despite the preconceived convenience of his chosen medium, is entirely premeditated. He states, “I usually leave my camera equipment behind and hike […] If it’s worthwhile, I then take my camera up and spend a long time adjusting, setting up, digesting, or looking at it from different angles, distances and so forth.” Namkung requires there be a “unifying, kinetic force” in his photographs that evokes musicality and rhythm.
Photograph (color print)
4' high x 5' wide
Johsel Namkung worked at the Sea-Tac Airport for the Northwest Orient Airlines (the name was later changed to Northwest Airlines) in 1951. Namkung acted as a language specialist, as he spoke fluent Japanese, Chinese, and Korean.
Educated as a musician, photographer Johsel Namkung captured on film the elements typically associated with music. Fleeting moments of harmony and rhythm form the foundation of many of Namkung’s photographic compositions.
"The act of creative execution is not unlike performing music on stage. You cannot sing three times and tell the audience to select the performance they like best. My negatives are my definitive statement, and they need not be cropped or altered. At least that is what I aspire to." – Johsel Namkung
Having apprenticed with Mr. Chao-Chen Yang, a renowned Chinese photographer, and Ansel Adams, who primarily worked in abstracting black-and-white, Namkung discovered photography to be a medium appropriate for documenting temporal feelings and the passing symmetry of nature.
Namkung worked for four years at Chromo, a commercial photo laboratory, using his sharp eye to create photographic enlargements by analyzing the negative to decide the filtration. He began work as the photographer at the pathology department at the University of Washington in 1961, developing photographs taken through the electron microscope.
Johsel participated in a solo exhibition at the Focus Gallery in San Francisco, a forerunning West Coast photography gallery, and has since been considered of the same caliber as George Tsutakawa, William Ivey and other Northwest artists. In July of 2013, Johsel Namkung passed away at the age of 94.
At the Airport
Namkung's Lake Wenatchee photographically documents the beauty of Northwest nature. See how another artist, Ann Gardner, puts a spin on a similar theme in her photographic series. Click the STQRY link below to see Gardner's Four Trees.
Namkung's brilliant photography captures themes of music hidden within patterns found in nature.
Listen to an excerpt of Namkung's interview with Alan Chong Lau conducted in 1989 for the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.