I am honored to write this blog post as a Featured Artist,
for the good people at the DOCUMENTED LIFE PROJECT 2015: THE JOURNAL.
The challenge given to me is to use multiple mediums to create an art piece that includes faces or the human form and to allow the piece to speak to my younger self ... and to provide advice to that younger self.
First off, I would NEVER give advice to anyone, including my younger self, unless I was explicitly asked or hired to give advice. There's a lot of judging, preaching, and unsolicited advising going on where people are meddling in the business of others ... frequently disguised as well-intended advice ... like "choose happy" or "be brave" or "be free" or "dream big."
So much so that a person who might not be feeling happy or brave or free or dreaming big might believe that there is something wrong with her ... different and peculiar from the rest of the world. What I've learned in my life through advice and counsel I have explicitly sought and sometimes paid for (and also through biographical stories I've heard or read about), is that I am who I am, and the more I can embrace all of the emotions I go through, the more fulfilling and meaningful my life becomes. It is a full time job to mind my own business.
When I was 7 years old, I left my home in South Korea and moved to California. This photo below is of a spread in my passport back then, with a photo of my younger self. One section of the passport that I've always thought interesting is a category titled VISIBLE PECULIARITIES. I don't think they have that category on their passports anymore but nevertheless, it has always gotten my mind stirring about human peculiarities, both visible and invisible.
Hmmm ... these words float in my head as I start to create this piece and I grab a piece of cardboard, some acrylic paints, palette knife, and black pencils.
I use a palette knife to first smudge on some pink paint. And while it's still a little bit wet, I smudge a bit of white paint right on top of the pink paint. I don't worry about perfection, but rather allow the paint to be applied loosely and scumbly.
Next, I use my pencil to make a scribbley face on a piece of vintage ledger paper. I intentionally make the face look "peculiar" ... imperfect eyes and nose, and a mouth positioned to one side of the face. I use a paintbrush wet with dirty water (water that I have used to rinse out dirty paintbrushes so that it's nice and murky) to loosen up some of the pencil marks around the face so to create a drippy cloud of hair for the face.
I tear the paper with the face into a smaller piece and then I start holding it up next to the smudgey cardboard to find the orientation that I like best.
And I decide on this one.
Before I adhere the paper to the cardboard, I use my pencil to sketch an outline that unifies the face with the smudgey paint ... to create sort of a mermaid-ish girl. Nothing definite. A bit "peculiar" and in a state of evolution. I like it.
With my pencil, I extend the silhouette of the hair beyond the paper and onto the cardboard and then I take my paintbrush loaded with some dirty water to paint the extending hair onto the cardboard.
I glue the paper onto the cardboard and then add additional loose and scribbley pencil marks including rain drops, illegible writing, anchor, and a word that is:
1) not a cliche
2) not judgemental or preachy
3) unexpectedly split in the middle and stacked
2) loose and scribbley
I wonder if my younger self were to see this piece whether she would realize that all humans have peculiarities, both visible and invisible. And that embracing them rather than pretending that they don't exist is what makes life interesting and weird and honest and tragic and joyful, and everything else. I hope so.
Thanks for tuning in,
PS: Some things you might want to check out if you want to:
My art studio
My etsy shop
My instagram feed