I focus on the iconography of "girly imagery" and "cute culture" in order to utilize its tropes and aesthetics to construct sculptures and abstracted paintings that expose the structure of underlying cultural identities, landscapes, and visual strategies. Characterized by hyper-exaggerations of feminine kitsch, girly or cute cultures are known for the use of infantile forms, bright and pastel colors, and saccharine imagery.
I began exploring the phenomena because of its effect on East Asian notions of female beauty. Primarily, I am interested in how this visual language represents East Asian society‘ s desire for women to be youthful, infantile, and doll like. I am also interested in how cuteness is utilized to mask any imperfection in a blanket of innocence.
As a first generation Korean-American, I approach these visual themes as a participant and spectator, examining the "girly", ultra-feminine representation of female identity present in products, the media, and popular culture. Because I am neither completely a part of the culture nor completely separated from it, I mine the components that define cute and girly imagery in order to understand my own desire for these good, despite being aware of the imagery‘s manipulative influence on perceptions of female beauty and behavior. I break down and emphasize the most frequent and commonly used aspects associated to this girly iconography such as pastel hues, rounded shapes, gridded patterns, repetition, and infantile objects. I then reassemble and interpret the information to highlight my own attraction to the culture, while making more evident the inherent appeal of cute imagery.
Recently, my work has been incorporating hand fabricated and found objects to more closely approximate how cute culture exists in the real world. Through a combination of flat graphics and physical products that target an adult female audience, my work literalizes my obsession with cuteness and the struggle I go through to come to terms with how easily I find this imagery attractive and desirable. Through my work, I wish to convey how cute culture has become synonymous with femininity and create a conversation about how we digest manufactured notions of feminine identity.