Hwalan is a scholar warrior. She is an actor, multi-media space artist, writer, director, martial artist, teacher and healer. The dialogue between opposing forces, traditional and contemporary, East and West, hard and soft, earthly and heavenly, ultimately leading to greater harmony on all levels, is at the heart of her work. The sacred is achieved through a transformation of, rather than in contradiction to, the deeply human.
Hwalan was born in Seoul, Korea, found on a road at the age of five months and adopted by a secular second generation Russian Jewish intellectual hippie couple living in upstate New York; defining her cultural artistic identity early in life.
Needing the mix of a great urban capital, at eighteen Hwalan moved to New York City and attended Columbia University. Hwalan was the only student ever to be granted a private studio for 2 1/2 years, interacting with graduate students on an independent level as a sophomore. Columbia chose Hwalan to represent the school in the National Arts Club competition. Hwalan won the Hans Hessel Award in sculpture. Hwalan majored in Visual Art, graduating Magna Cum Laude.
Hwalan felt the need to return to her birth country, compelled to study traditional Korean performing arts: drumming, dance, opera, yoga and martial arts.
During this time Hwalan also engaged in theater: writing, directing and performing traditional Korean music combined with contemporary dance and electric guitar. Soon after, Hwalan’s performance talent was spotted by the producer of a show at Chundong Theater. She was cast as lead in a vast drumming extravaganza.
The calling from within to finally cross over from Korean city performer to country SunMuDo disciple had come. When the sky fell on her head, her body was a vehicle that could transform human to sacred.
Returning to New York, Hwalan immediately became a member of the USA Shaolin Temple Demo Team. Hwalan currently trains in Wu Shu.
Perfecting her yoga practice as well, Hwalan is today one of New York City’s top yoga teachers. She combines yoga and martial arts into a new spiritual/physical experience for her students.
T.V. work includes NBC’s The Blacklist. Upcoming theater work includes Alas, The Nymphs at BAM. Hwalan will play Echo, a Lead Nymph. On going theater work includes the Lead role in Veteran’s Project: Leaving Theater. Hwalan plays Sgt. Chang, a suicidal combat veteran with PTS struggling to re-integrate into civilian society. Directed by Fay Simpson (coached Academy Award winner Lupita Nyong’o in 12 Years a Slave; Yale, NYU; creator of Lucid Body). Hwalan co-created the arc, character, choreography and script through interviews with veterans. The second half of the piece involves improvisation with the audience, comprised of combat veterans from Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. Veterans consistently think Hwalan is a veteran herself, asking when she served. Hwalan is a fearless, powerful, sensitive and highly physical actor.
As an immersive installation artist, Hwalan’s work navigates loci where science and spirituality converge, providing sensory cues that serve as bridges towards a more heightened, or opened, state; where the experiencer can settle or tap into anything. Or nothing. Hwalan’s focus is upon the experiencer as primary, active participant within the immersive environments. The sensate experience of Hwalan’s art incites a shift in perception, embodiment and presence. Hwalan recently created, directed and performed in Electra Project, a site specific video installation for the Armory Show. The work, based on Mourning Becomes Electra, by Eugene O’Neill, was installed in the library of a mansion in the Bronx – the Andrew Freedman Home, a time capsule of the roaring twenties.