I moved to Chicago from Korea in 1994, painting on my own and preparing for further art study at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. My drawings and paintings at that time were mostly self-portraits drawn from difficult personal circumstances. When I embraced these experiences, I began to be healed, and my work also became clearer than before.

In my work, I often use soft white and light cotton batting fabric from Korea and rough heavy rugs from the United States; the fabric looks very weak, but it is actually strong. I ravel and unravel the strong and colorful thread to represent the way people are made stronger and more beautiful by a horrible situation. It is like an oyster that makes a pearl out of pain. The semi-transparency of the fabric represents the way in which a jail contains the human body, but not the human spirit.

I use everyday objects such as soft fabric, cheesecloth, thread, string, beads, rice paper and rugs. I have been cutting, unraveling, raveling, sewing, crocheting, knitting and collecting discarded items from the floor of my studio. The salvaged materials extend past the edges of the rectangle and expand the space, in the same way that there are no limitations on energy. I want to express, through my work, the way in which I make my own order out of chaos. I want to share the catharsis for healing and change through the image of salvage transforming into a pearl.

As we go through the day, we feel a variety of different emotions such as anxiety and calm, peacefulness and anger, rage and serenity, strength and weakness or happiness and sorrow. These varieties of complicated emotions are ever-present as long as we live.

Life cannot exist without suffering. Weakness is a requirement for strength.

During my turbulent experiences, I came to understand the fragility of life as well as the strength that helps us strive to resolve life’s struggles.

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