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, power and softness, 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 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. Only by extending our compassion past the boundary of self-identity will the world become a better place.
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 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.
Upcoming film work includes the Supporting role of CAMILLE in Death Letter: God, Sex and War, written and directed by Cody Knotts, produced by Alexandra Malick and Kirk Holman. T.V. work includes NBC’s The Blacklist. Recent theater work includes the Lead role of ECHO in a SOLD OUT run of Alas, The Nymphs at BAM. And the Lead role in Veteran’s Project: Leaving Theater, which toured for two years. Hwalan played Sgt. Chang, a suicidal combat veteran with PTS struggling to re-integrate into civilian society. Hwalan was requested by the director, Fay Simpson (coached Academy Award winner Lupita Nyong’o in 12 Years a Slave). Hwalan co-created the arc, character, choreography and script through interviews and in collaboration with veterans, who were an integral part of the work. The second half of the piece involved improvisation with the audience, comprised of combat veterans from Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. Veterans consistently thought Hwalan was a veteran herself, often 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, performed and co-produced 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, a time capsule of the roaring twenties.