Yale University School of Art, New Haven, CT. MFA. 2018
Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, RI. BFA. 2012
As an expat myself who grew up in Korea and now lives and works in America, my work explores the tension between individualism and collectivism in this time of globalization.
I grew up in a politically liberal, Korean-Catholic family, who followed the traditions of Taoism and Confucianism. My name was given according to the family genealogy books, passed down through generations and generations, starting from the Koryŏ dynasty, established in 918. The names of our family members were pre-determined based on The Yin-Yang and Five Element and Planet Theories, to include the elements of Wood (Jupiter), Fire (Mars), Earth (Saturn), Metal (Venus), and Water (Mercury) in balance.
The two characters from my first name include the element of Venus, representing a large drum-shaped bell made out of shining gold and silver. The bell was historically a primary source of communication used at ceremonies to pay homage to the ancestors, to announce important gatherings, to herald political and social events, and to accompany rites and rituals.
It is fascinating to learn about the somewhat contradictory values and philosophies embedded in my family tradition, especially when I found out that I was a first generation to be included in the family naming system as a daughter. In a patriarchal society influenced by Confucian tradition, a woman’s position within the family was temporary, ending when she was married. Thus, it is still common that women are not included in the family naming system. My grandfather, who was a liberal, human-rights activist and lawyer, changed the “rules” when I was born, and included daughters to the naming tradition. He also gave me a Catholic name, Elizabeth.
With great appreciation and curiosity towards my cultural background and values, I often felt overwhelmed by Korean collectivist culture, because the focus was always on ‘Us’ rather than ‘Me.’ Now that I’ve adapted to individualistic culture living in the US, I clearly recognize that a culture of individualism clashes with collectivism in myself as well as in our contemporary society: How can we distinguish between our own intuitive desires and what society is telling us we should strive for, in order to be loved and accepted? How do we shape our individual identities, making choices and forging our own paths, while recognizing our inherent need for belonging and connection?
I am interested in trans-genre work—what would poems look like as video, videos look like as a performance, songs look like as a book. What does it mean to write with images, dance with words?
My artistic practice is also deeply rooted in collaborations and facilitating shared experiences through various types of gatherings and workshops. I strive to maintain a sense of interconnection—to preserve the imperfect, thus beautiful, humanity and human to human contact—an emphasis on softness, in an increasingly harsh, digital landscape.
Currently teaching at SUNY Purchase, I’ve worked as a graphic designer for various artists and institutions in New York City, such as The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum, Queens Museum, The Studio Museum in Harlem, etc., designing exhibitions, publications, and visual identity.
write to me, i’m open for designing commissioned work, collaborating, publishing books and videos, sharing music and films, traveling to organize workshops, dinner parties + + +