ACT OF HEALING 2019
My artwork tends to focus on trauma, capturing the human spirit and how certain experiences affect our psychological condition. I recently learned of trauma-informed-care, a mental health term, where you ask someone “what happened” as opposed to “what is wrong with you.” I used this method to approach my neighbors, the increasing homeless people of Los Angeles, inquiring about their situation and aiming for connection.
I began doing interviews in early 2018, in downtown Los Angeles and Koreatown, engaging with people en route to work. I must note that one of the first encounters that propelled this series was with Sean, a Yale graduate who worked on Wall Street and after his mother died, things took a left turn. After meeting Sean, I was compelled to engage in conversation with more people. His story was unique, however, not so rare, as it could happen to anyone.
The Art Work
I decided to used gypsum sheets as my surface and as a symbol for the most common material that is used to construct walls and shelter. What I carved out in each piece is representative of flesh. In The Open Wound, Frank Seeburger says trauma is just such a never-to-be-closed wound, one that remains open even after the healing process has come to full fruition. Similarly, my aim was to create concrete marks, something permanent. Thus the carving process is symbolic of this “never-to-be-closed” wound. I chose patriotic colors, questioning the idea of home-land, freedom, and security. Equally, the steel frames were each fabricated to create a spacial contour around the gypsum sheets, suggestive of a simple home.
After having the privilege to engage with several homeless individuals, I began to embrace the connection I had with each one of them. I wanted to elevate the significance of their lives. The intent was to present these narratives in a visually contemplative and spiritual manner. I suspended the paintings by extending the lines from the two dimensional surface to three-dimensional space, taking advantage of the high ceiling and chapel-like floor plan of the gallery.
The viewer is invited to stand in front of each piece, spaced out like naves in cathedrals, as if each piece was a station (echoing Stations of the Cross). The headphones and audio players, also drop from the ceiling, prompting the viewer to make an audio visual connection between the recordings and the paintings.
Individual pieces with audio recordings
Sean (audio not available)