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Set in Stone

I'm so very excited about the progression of my work into the third dimension. I've been starting to play around with a material I've been itching to work with as it connects me to place.

Place. Being. Home. Belonging.

They're all very powerful words to me, and have been elusive for my whole life. My paintings have been an effort to overcome anxiety and illuminate the truth that we are all connected. This zoomed out view of my work gets focused with materials and/or context to dive deeper into an area of my life that I seek to develop comfort in.

Past examples of this are my works on handmade Korean paper, with brush strokes that are inspired by traditional Korean calligraphy. These works help me grow closer to my heritage, while working with sequestered carbon ink, or upcycling materials are my effort to connect deeper with the planet.

A lot of my life has been lived seeking to find comfort in "home" as a first generation Korean-American. But even saying that is weird, because I'm first generation in the sense that I am born to Korean immigrants, but my grandparents also immigrated to the US at different times in their lives. So, technically, my grandparents are the first generation to live here in my family, but my generation is the first to be born here on mom and dad's side of the family. (Why does everything have to be so complicated?)

Seeking identity in home is often connected with place. For instance, it's common to ask where someone's hometown is. Many people have lived in their hometown for a substantial period of time. I've lived in my birth city for a total of two years, and each year was separated by about 35 years.

But I was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and have lived in and out of Metro-Detroit where my family is based for much of my life. I've never really fit in here, but I'm finding that's why I can add value here. I'm different. And I'm learning that that's ok.

The desire to feel deeply connected to a place is something I've been yearning for, and buying a home in the city of Detroit is a big first step. And so it makes so much sense to me that the next big shift in my art practice is with materials that lay the groundwork for my new home (and that's new to me, as my house is 84 years old).

I've started to explore gypsum alabaster to give my work dimension, and a closer connection to home. Michigan is consistently 1 or 2 in gypsum production in the US annually as it is home to one of the richest gypsum deposits in the world. This mineral is essential to our daily lives yet it is practically invisible. Chances are good you live with gypsum, as drywall is made of it. The company that makes most of the drywall, USG, acquired the Michigan quarries in 1902. Gypsum is used to enrich the soil we grow food in, and is the primary ingredient in toothpaste.

This mineral has been used in the earliest days for a variety of things, but most notably, sculpture. The egyptians lined the pyramids with gypsum and carved into them and the ancient greeks named this magic mineral "gypsos". I'm inspired by my heritage as a creative human, but also as a human born in Michigan.

The more the world advances with technology and innovation, I seek a deeper connection to craft that's fading away and the place I call home. And so I will be creating more works with this mineral that's been so important for human expression and daily life, and connect it with our modern world.

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