In elementary school, if I wasn’t drawing, I’d be in the city library, lost in a biography of Magritte or a history of Impressionism. I was certain that I’d become an artist, sharing my self-expression with the world in the greatest museums. But after years of being told in the strict Korean disciplinary system that pursuing art was “unrealistic and not practical for my career,” my shining future slid to the bottom of the priority ladder. I felt like I was walking around wearing a mask, my sense of self slowly slipping away.
One day, in the city park, I noticed a group of primary school children taking outdoor art lessons. Joyful laughter filled the air. When one child showed their drawing to a friend, happiness and understanding shone in their excited expressions.
I wanted to be like those children.
My doubts and fears about life turned into a realization. I could stay within the choices society set before me, my expression limited to what I was supposed to do and say. It seemed like a safe road, but in keeping my creativity from shining out and connecting with others, it was the greatest danger I’d ever encountered.
I threw myself back into practicing art. A stream of consciousness, without the interruption of thought or life constraints, is what I aim to depict in my work. I show it connecting the people I paint, an unhindered flow of understanding that goes deeper than rules and expectations.
To paint is to show a bit of your soul. Where words fail, colors and strokes communicate. In order to achieve this type of painting with gravity and depth, the artist needs to relate sincerely to others.
Once a painting is complete, no matter how much you love it, it is outside of you. Everything of yourself that you poured into that artwork is now in front of your eyes. For this creation to be really valuable, it needs to take account of the surroundings around you: conversations, events, other people. This is how the viewer can get involved in the part of yourself that you’ve given them. Art is a joyful meeting-place: This is the artist’s role in society.
Having gotten back in touch with the enthusiasm of my childhood, I began once again making meaningful connections with new friends I would have never known if it weren’t for art. I am always amazed and humbled when my art resonates with others in a way that I hadn’t even thought of when creating the piece. Art lets people see aspects of others’ personalities that no other form of communication can reveal, and brings those hidden things into the light to be shared.
Art is first and foremost a communicative force in society. When I re-embraced my role as an artist, the gray and listless feeling I’d had toward society gave way to a sparkling flow of emotions that had always been inside me, buried under false pretenses and obligations. This truth and freedom is what I want to share with the world, through my art.