I felt muted when I came to America at age 12. Growing up as a Korean international student at a mostly white Catholic boarding school, I had to learn the way of living all over again. A formative memory that gave me confidence was from Father Edmund who taught Theology course. With my broken English, I presented to him my critical perspective on understanding the Bible as a literal transcription of God’s words, while he explained that faith was a matter of belief not analysis. This discussion hinted to me that the cultural gap I felt as a foreigner was a mutual experience the majority of the school had with me. ‘If they knew me as little as how much I knew them, then I shouldn’t be afraid of expressing myself.’ This courage I found during teenage became a personal milestone to revisit when I practice art.
As an artist, my efforts are to abridge cultural, physical, and spiritual distance that lie between personal experiences and to catalyze closer conversations for mutual understanding. Giving voice to inner speakers is an effective way to save what is lost in translation and to minimize miscommunications. At the core, my works function as an extended research in rhetorics, as well as a point of revelation for ubiquitous values like passion and love for life.
My process begins by translating visceral expressions into metaphors. I shape symbols in various media, from videotaping the vital moments of hatching larvae to show a birth of romantic feelings between lovers in narrative short film to swinging a baseball bat to ease anger during the Covid pandemic lockdown in self-portrait video, and broadcasting Buddhist meditative audio as a prayer for good fortune during Lunar New Year event at a mall. Articulating the deeply rooted emotions into visual and phonic media anchors my will to connect beyond the surface.
On a fundamental level, my work reiterates courage – an act of acknowledging, accepting, and embracing our racial, cultural, and gender differences. I argue that it communicates beyond the natal and physical barriers. I strive to envision this spirit through audio and visual analogy.