I focus on the iconography of “girly imagery” and “cute culture” in order to utilize its tropes and aesthetics to construct paintings and installations that expose the structure of underlying cultural identities, landscapes, and visual strategies. Cuteness and cute culture were the subject of my work, but have shifted into becoming the vernacular of it. I was drawn to cuteness because of its visual appeal and because it exemplifies the foreign and familiar quality of my Korean identity, particularly how this culture is made to appeal to me, made to define me. Cuteness 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 as a 26-year-old adult.
Now, cuteness is the hand that drives my image making. It is the vernacular articulation of an aesthetic that saturates my experiences, memories, and identity. Cute culture, anime, nostalgic iterations of pop culture all appear reimagined rearranged and recomposed across my painted surfaces. 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 the cute aesthetic as an expressive language. The flatness and bright plastic quality of these images and objects is executed in acrylic, which shares the same properties. Cuteness is a reflection of my demographic and acts as a stand in for myself. Cute culture exists in exultation, an aesthetic people idolize, adopt into their personas, and spread into the Internet ethos. It is something that connects me to the rifts in my Korean and American cultures, creating a simultaneous feeling of foreignness and familiarity. Hence, my work articulates this subculture and thrusts it into a contemporary expression of femininity, Asian-ness, beauty, juvenility, vulnerability, and sentimentality.