—click on any image to enlarge—
As an immigrant, my work deals with the inner journey between the physical and mental landscapes of Korea where I grew up and the Western world where I have spent most of my adult life. Migration as it applies to all living creatures, including humans, is close to my heart as a subject. At Westhampton Beach, I have watched endless lines of Monarch butterflies trying to head south, fighting the strong ocean winds turning them around. It takes only a few seconds for these tiny creatures to realize something is wrong and turn themselves back to continue on their journey. I am reminded of Sebastian in Tennessee Williams’ “Suddenly Last Summer.” I have seen God!
My painting process is not unlike the Monarchs’ journey. I am seeking the heart of the matter, the deepest places my emotion carries me. Often I do not know which form this will take. But I know if it is a wrong direction when I lay down my strokes, shapes, and colors. Often this takes many trials and errors. But every hour I spend with a canvas takes me closer to the essence of what I want to say. Accidents along the way often turn out to be the right path. I think of Lee Krasner saying she got up in the morning thinking she would do a green painting but at the end of the day it became a purple painting.
I care about the picture surface. For many years I used oil and dry pigment, which required me to wear a mask and be very careful not to inhale the powder. After a decade I had to give this up for health reasons as well as the difficulty of storing and exhibiting without damage. Although I miss the deep yet clear surface yielded by the kneading of the powder into the oil paint, I have come to appreciate the way acrylic and oil paint often simultaneously create an interesting picture surface.