Tuesday, June 16, 2009

There's always more

[For this alone, visit Sono Factory.] I have a little bit of time before Kelsey gets home and we go for our nighttime walk. Today I was supposed to see the book show w/Esther, pick up my books and go to another show south of the river. It ended up being just the first half, extended all day. I got to the gallery and saw Young-jin, who is doing his doctoral work in printmaking and was very active in getting this exhibit together (and deinstalled today). Esther and her friend stopped by, and then Young-jin took me to a fantastic, tiny sushi place for late lunch before going back and wrapping up all the books. Hyejin stopped by and we boxed up all the books returning to Chicago. It was nice to have a chill afternoon before that, reading the books that I had only seen pictures of from my old grad program, and staying cool on a hot day in a lovely gallery/cafe space.

After taking the show down and getting it all back to Young-jin's studio (where I happily drew at a work station while missing having a studio and time to doodle), we went out for drinks and expounded on hanji and book arts and what Korean artists can do to make better books.

This leads me to the "more" part about why I do what I do: it's fun. And I love it. I don't think I made that clear last time. I grew up hearing often that I was selfish. And maybe I am; maybe I am very greedy. But I love meeting people, I love learning, I love meeting new art and revisiting old friends in the form of art, I love the community that I continue to develop wherever I go, I love traveling for my work, I love pushing myself, I love working with my hands and my head, I love being in constant conversation.

I feel alternately like I'm beating the path and uncovering it. This explains why I feel tired and excited / freaked out so often (there are so many unexpected things that crawl out from under). I have devoted my life to self-awareness and find my current path to be the best way to figure things out about myself and how I fit into the world and how that affects me. I need to get better at understanding how I affect it. I remember being 18 and dating a boy who was also an eldest child who said, your little sister probably looks up to you a lot more than you think. Until then, I had felt no sense of responsibility for being any kind of role model to her. The older we get, the more people think that she is the older sister. I have no easy explanation for this (that doesn't make me look like a bratty fool).

I also think that I am OCD about following whatever dreams I have because I was raised by a family that sacrificed so many of theirs. Yesterday, my parents' friend introduced me to her client by saying that I come from the "elite" in terms of my family lineage/status. I find that highly stressful, like I have to live up to something that I could never possibly live up to, or understand. My great grandfather was a doctor who barely made a living b/c he treated people too poor to pay him. This caused my grandmother to not let my father go into medicine for fear that he would be poor (this backfired BIG time). My grandfather was the head of the first stock company here but was forced out very early b/c he was the brother-in-law of Kim Dae-Jung (the prevailing theory being that you quash everyone w/any relationship to rising leaders to keep them from gaining power). He was brilliant, highly educated, fluent in several languages; he built a darkroom in the basement, designed his own house based on his foreign travel, and was always learning more via all forms of media available to him at the time. But he couldn't work. My strongest visceral memory of him is the residue of his hand (likely since we had so little actual contact with him): once when he was visiting us in NY, he wrote a letter on our tea table made of cherry wood without anything under the piece of paper. Those characters are still etched into the surface of the table.

My mother wanted to be an artist but her family was too poor to send her to school, so she ended up being a nurse. When we were young, she used to draw portraits of us but soon refused entirely, saying she never wanted to draw again - it was too painful a reminder of what she couldn't have. Or, of what was taken away from her. It reminds me of how my grandmother refused to see me here, now, b/c it would be too painful to say goodbye. Many people say their parents immigrated for a better life, and for a better life for their children. I am unsure about that in my case since my parents went separately, with no intention of meeting or creating a family, but this year made me grateful for the fact of their immigration, not the reason. That fact means that I do what I do because I can: I grew up in a culture that condones doing what you want to do (this can have a wide range of repercussions, of course).

1 comment:

Frank said...

Thanks again for letting us see more of why you are doing what you are doing!