BIO

Christina Ko is a Korean American artist living and working in Queens, NY. She received her BFA from Cornell University in 2013 and has since then shown her work in Los Angeles, CA, Washington D.C., and in around NYC. Selected exhibitions include: “Downloading Place”, Wave Hill, Bronx, NY (2019); “Fever Lure”, Selenas Mountain Gallery, Brooklyn, NY (2019); “Crossover: East and West”, Korean Cultural Center, Washington D.C. (2018), and “Nightcall”, Public Address Gallery, Brooklyn, NY (2017). Her work has been featured in Gallery Gurls, the Arcade Project Zine, Hiss Magazine, The Fader magazine, The Washington Post, and Ballpit Magazine.

STATEMENT

I focus on the iconography of “girly imagery” and “cute culture” to construct paintings and installations that expose underlying cultural archetypes. Cuteness and femininity as they present themselves in popular culture, online, and in the media, are the vernacular of my work. In using this vernacular, I challenge the Western bias that often dismisses or fetishizes this aesthetic. Through the language of painting and careful arrangement, I aim to legitimize this aesthetic prevalent in East Asia.

As a Korean American, I tapped into this aesthetic rooted in East Asian ideals of female identity because it appealed to my own innate sensibilities, at a time when I felt unable to situate myself in either Asian or American culture. This cute and girly aesthetic was how I related to the culture of my parents and to my own conflicted identity as a child and still shapes the lens through which I view my experiences. In using this aesthetic, I am reclaiming it as a part of my visual history. This language saturates my experiences, memories, and identity. Cute culture, “girly” images, and nostalgic iterations of East Asian culture appear re-imagined and recomposed across painted surfaces. Through a desire to connect I replicate images and objects tapping into Korea’s complicated relationship with counterfeit culture that began with a desire for but lack of access to brand name goods. With different intentions, my work still retains a connection to this act associated with unfulfilled desire, replaced with a desire to connect to Asia, a homeland that was never a home, and a culture, foreign yet familiar that was never mine to own.

In my work, I act as an observer, participant, researcher, worshipper, and critic and the work that emerges negotiates the ground between these different positions and delves into this aesthetic as an expressive language. The work lies somewhere between personal diary and analytical observations. Ultimately, I aim to create a contemporary expression of Asian American identity, femininity, beauty, juvenility, and sentimentality.