As a Korean-born adoptee, raised in a Jewish-American home in a large, mid-western city, I use my childhood experiences to explore questions of lost identity, multiple identity and racial identity. I use my personal memories, followed by research, to explore current incidents of racial stereotyping and to reflect on, and bring a unique focus to, contemporary observations on our society.  My work is inspired by everyday words and gestures or movements.

While my sculptures are often seen as figurative, I prefer to describe them as gestural.  The larger works are often a vehicle for capturing a seemingly small gesture or act, which is better captured and understood in a larger context. My sculptures are often literal representations of idioms, such as My Thoughts Exactly... and Child Overboard. While my figures mimic the most simple translations of these words, their connotations are considerably more complex. 

My drawings attempt to put the viewer in the same state of mind as a person of color might find herself as the victim of unintended stereotyping or racism. The simple and elegant patterns draw the viewer into a calm and familiar space. Upon closer reflection, however, the viewer is jolted by words like: You’re Rude, I’m Disappointed By You or Who Are You?!?.

The mirrors developed as a gateway between my sculptures and drawings. Although the mirrors are flat, the reflection of the always changing backgrounds and viewers adds a dimension of depth linking them to the sculptures. The viewer has now become part of the piece, amplifying the effect of the words often seen on their faces and accenting their own biases.

Los Angeles culture and news are dominated by the entertainment industry. One of the fads receiving extraordinary press coverage has been celebrities adopting children from third world countries. The pieces, Orphan Baby One (Gold) and Orphan Baby Two (Silver), are based on my memories of visiting Korean orphanages as a child. The simple, longing gestures of the children seeking to be picked up are in contrast to the use of Swarovski crystals, which represent the glitz factor associated with these celebrity adoptions. These precious crystals also “highlight” the private, real needs of the individual child rather than the need for publicity by the celebrities.

As a member of an inter-racial family (my sister is also a Korean-born adoptee), raised in the Jewish faith, I never felt a strong affiliation to any of my communities: I was not white, I did not feel a part of the Jewish community and I wasn’t Asian enough. The adoptee is often questioned about his/her background in simple terms, only to have to answer questions like: are you good in math? Is she your “real” sister? Do you know your “real” parents?  Even in a multi-cultural and large, Asian populated community, insensitivities abound.

I hope that my art encourages viewers to explore their use of stereotypes and offensive behaviors and encourages a more enlightened dialogue regarding the social integration of our very complex and varied society.