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 am challenging the Western bias that often dismisses this aesthetic culture as frivolous and childish. Through the language of painting and careful arrangement, I aim to legitimize this aesthetic language 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. 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 a personal diary and clinical observations. Ultimately, I aim to create work that is a contemporary expression of Asian American identity, femininity, beauty, juvenility, and sentimentality.