I explored the idea of containment through my experiences of a mother-daughter relationship, personal identity, and the pandemic due to Covid-19. My inspiration came from personal histories and memories in relation to containment. I used my art to explore both the protective and restraining aspects of containment, which often evokes various emotions, such as strong bonds in relationships, unchanging stillness, and frustration. I have used various mediums for my artworks to express my thematic focus of containment, they include charcoal drawing, acrylic painting, storytelling with video, ceramics, and embroidery. I have explored three different stories I experienced in relation to containment, mother-daughter relationships, quarantine, and my own personal identity.
The first story is about a mother-daughter relationship which is unavoidable and timeless. Jaguar is a charcoal drawing on khadi paper. It depicts a mother jaguar and its cub. The visual of a mother jaguar carrying its cub represents my relationship with my mother. It represents the protective side of mothering which sometimes feels controlling and overwhelming yet her purpose is to protect. There are lotus and Buddhist prayer beads drawn on each of the mother Jaguar and its cub representing my mother’s faith. Hen is a ceramic sculpture, it has quite straightforward imagery, a hen sitting on its egg with miniature objects around, with an intent to connect the view to home and to emphasize the role of a mother being home with her children which originated from my parents in Korea. I used a soft pale grey-green color glaze for the hen yet the egg inside is glazed with vivid red, which is very contrasting to the hen, to emphasize the difference between my mother and me, and reflects the contemporary culture and my different experiences growing up with my mother. I continued to explore the mother-daughter relationship in a video work titled Mother. This work is influenced by Measures of Distance(1988) by Mona Hatoum. Hatoum depicted the emotion of missing home through this film, pictures of her mother overlapped with letters Hatoum’s mother sent to Hatoum. I used images and videos of my mother doing needlework and her workspace in a similar fashion. I overlapped those images with text in Korean from letters and cards my mother wrote to me when I was young. Continuing with this theme, I collaborated on a long-term project with my mother, titled Embroidered Conversation. Needlework created a bond as we worked together and is very closely related to the conception of my mother to me. The visual of a wooden frame emphasizes the theme of containment. In the next group of work, I explored containment in the context of my own personal identity. I created 2 works, Birthday Cake and Cage. In both these works, I confronted containment through the norms and expectations of females in my culture and society. The last work, Betta Fish, is an acrylic painting on canvas board. It depicts my room that I spent more than a year in due to the pandemic. Betta fish are well-known for their beautiful fins, yet they have a very interesting trait. They are also called the Siamese fighting fish, they are very territorial. If two of them are housed together, they fight, exaggerating their fins until one of them dies. This is a metaphor for how I felt during the quarantine, depicting the nervousness, and the unstableness in the air.
For the exhibition, I have separated my pieces into two groups, 2D including Betta Fish, Birthday cake, Jaguar and Mother, and 3D objects Cage, Embroidered Conversation and Hen. I displayed them as listed above, in relation to their themes and medium. The 2D pieces were hung on the wall, the video was displayed on a monitor, and 3D pieces were placed in the middle of the exhibition space for the audience to walk around and look at the pieces in different ways. Cage was hung, Embroidered Conversation on its own since it had a wooden frame, and Hen on a pedestal. Jaguar, Mother, Embroidered Conversation and Hen were closely displayed since they share the theme of mother-daughter relationship, which is the dominant theme in my series of works.