JOO YEON WOO

ARTIST STATEMENT
As a culturally displaced artist myself, I have been drawn to the theme of cultural displacement and identity and to social psychological and cross-cultural studies that are heavily influenced by immigrant experiences and by the interaction between people and space. My creative works explore the blurred boundaries of today’s nomadic life style. Today’s nomadism is not that of unrestricted wandering; it is based on a global nomadic culture insofar as our experiences are now multi-cultural, transcending geographic locations and the ethnic characteristics of our living environments. On the basis of the above concept, my creative works seek to answer following three questions: (1) How do my physical and psychological experiences of displacement affect and express a sense of identity? (2) How do I express my Korean regionality in a global community? (3) How do I apply collecting as an artistic action in my creative works?

The new photography project, Traveler’s Cup, was shot on location in order to incorporate a performative approach and a sense of immediacy, while my earlier works were completed in studio setting. To shorten the production process, I photographed images of selected architecture, landmarks, or monuments, printed them out on 5cm sized paper, cut the images out very carefully, and then soaked the cut prints in a glass of water to re-photograph the prints within the landscape from whence they came. I have been collecting different surroundings and arranging them, per place, within the water glass from which I drink every day in order to absorb the location visually and conceptually. The collections, which will be shown in the A.I.R national show in 2015, were completed while I visited in Hungry, Austria, and Czech Republic a few years ago. These “portraits” of place convey my thoughts and feelings about the places where I have not constructed an identity and, therefore, am unable to retrieve spatial memories and stories.

The Skyscape series employs acrylic painting on digital pigment print and was heavily influenced by my experience of applying for permanent residency in the United States. The works present skyscape scenes created by my scanned black-and-white fingerprints and floating international airplanes painted, with a photorealistic approach, on top of the prints. The works show my attempt to present the adaptive aspect of cultural identity symbolized by international airplanes, as it is altered and expanded through cultural displacement in a global nomadic culture. The works echo styles and practices of Korean traditional ink wash drawing and literati painting called Sumukhwa. Sumukhwa uses brush lines, textures, and shading by varying the ink density on a rice paper. One of the main techniques in Sumukhwa is Gong-pil meaning a meticulous brush craftsmanship. The Gong-pil technique uses highly detailed brushstrokes and very thin ink layers to depict narrative objects. I adapted the style of ink concentrations and Gong-pil on the works to appear meditative charcoal power feeling and detailed depictions.

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