When I learned of my brother Jinil's untimely death this past November, I started folding boats. As I was folding them, I could hear the sound of my daughter's voice in my mind, singing the song, Falling Slowly, which has lyrics that go like this "Take this sinking boat and point it home we've still got time ..."
I was also thinking about the hymn that my large extended family sang in the airport in Seoul, Korea back in 1974 as we made a large circle, holding hands, as my mom, dad, brothers Jim and Jinil, and I were ready to board a plane that would take us from Seoul to Los Angeles.
The verses of the hymn when loosely translated go something like this:
The grace of my Lord God is deeper than the ocean,
Anchors away, and travel toward the middle of the sea.
Leave the shore, take your boat over the waves,
Sail through the ocean of grace, my Lord Jesus.
This hymn. When I think about it, when I sing it, brings me to tears and brings me to my knees.
Though we were boarding a plane, it felt similar to boarding a boat as we would indeed be leaving the shore to cross an ocean to embark on the biggest journey that the five of us as individuals and the five of us as a family unit would experience.
Asian immigrants ... whether they travel by boat or plane, are referred frequently as "fresh off the boat" or "boat people."
This past December, one of the best things that happened to me was a visit to the Brooklyn Museum. During this visit, I was able to see the famous permanent exhibition by Judy Chicago: The Dinner Party, which celebrates women's contributions to society by celebrating, respecting, and honoring the very essence of femalehood. During this visit, I also saw the phenomenal works of artist Wangechi Mutu whose multi-faceted narrative embraces the intersections of nature, sex, and culture. I know that these works have influenced me greatly and encouraged me to lose my inhibitions as I explore similar themes in my art.
So the boats have naturally evolved into boat-like people at times, or parts of people ... mostly women ... as I seek to explore the facets and folds of what it means to be the woman I am, and how it feels to hold onto a string of the boat that symbolizes people, places, and things I don't want to lose and don't want to forget.
This February 1st I'll be showing my paintings and other works that have been created as part of this journey. It'll be an imperfect show that may be shown again as works continue to evolve. But even with its imperfections, I'm happy to have the time and space to share my story.
207 N. Broadway St., Suite L
Santa Ana, CA 92701
I'll be there from 5-10 but the two hours when most people will be there during this art walk night are the hours from 7-9PM. Look forward to seeing you there and having you witness my story.