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Yeon Kwark (Hera)

Being imperfect is pivotal in accepting my identity. Not being perfect inspired me to examine the interpretation and expectations of being perfect. My body of artwork analyzes the social constructs of gender and gender inequality, which has led to my continual avoidance and acceptance of who I am and my personal identity. I focused on my relationship to the factors of social constructs within family and culture, and stereotypes that manifest in Korean society.


In my body of work, I use a range of mediums and materials including ceramics, fabrics, animation, wood, ceramics, fabrics, and paper to convey meaning. In each work, I appropriate visual signs and symbols specific to Korean social-cultural traditions and arts that point to the past. I reinterpreted and reinvented them in new ways that show a sense of my identity and personal empowerment in the present. I experimented further with materials combining ceramics, fabrics, wood, and paper. I carefully selected my materials such as Korean paper, ink drawing, and a wood base which symbolizes the materials used in the history of Korea.


The work Accept Me reflects how I was not accepting to show my real side. The gray hand represents me behind the society while the white hand gets the spotlight and is the side shown to the society. I used the symbolism of the red line as a limit that should not be crossed without facing severe consequences, meaning both the gray and white hands can not go out of the line. Through the use of digital drawing, I was able to show the meaning of the color difference between the perfect self and the real self. I aimed to show a significant color difference and so through the use of this digital drawing medium I was capable of using the colors to convey meaning. Similarly, in The work Liar? expresses both internal and external conflict that I continuously conceal my true character. I again used the red line to symbolize a limit that should not be crossed. I used a digital medium to trace myself and incorporate the aspects that symbolize myself.


For the work, Not All Flowers Bloom in Spring I used different colored papers to make the Korean traditional flowers and the leaves. The flower is a symbol of myself and the comparisons I often encounter in my everyday life. Thus, this quote means ‘Everyone in this world flourishes at their own time’. I created a 3-dimensional form and hand-made flowers to serve as a material and symbol for individual self and connection to my family. Likewise, for the Traditional Fan, I created a traditional fan with a cultural play drawn on it to represent the importance of being skilled. The significance of the fan and Korean play drawn as a symbol is evident as this kind of play and traditional clothes are only from Korea. The act of up and down reflects the continual competition I encounter. The third subject in the artwork represents me, unable to join in. The ceramic medium artwork, Imperfection to Perfection was influenced by the works of Yeesookyung, titled Translated Vases. Historically Korean ceramic masters destroyed the ceramics that had minor defects when they were not perfect. Correspondingly, I replicated this process and I made a connection between myself and the interpretation between perfection and imperfection. I broke the vases and then put them back together in a new way, manifesting a new beauty from the imperfect pieces by imitating the perfect ceramics.


The exhibition is organized to show and let the audience interact with my artworks that show my evolution of the concern of my personal identity. The 2D artworks were hung on the wall, which let the viewers follow through to the 3D works that were in the middle of the room. The hat from the work Continuous Stereotype was hung high at an eye view and behind that, the photograph was directly aligned to make connections between the two artworks. Not All Flowers Bloom in Spring had its own wall to accommodate the size of the artwork and has a long space upfront for the audience to look at the work from far back.