Artist Statement

I use neurological and linguistic imagery to meditate on neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s. I consider memory disruption similar to my experience of a nomadic upbringing, which fragmented my sense of self, place, language, and memory. I study these fragments by integrating the academic domains of art and neuroscience and non-verbal investigations of memory. In 2019, I independently pursued an assistantship for summer art therapy sessions at a French residence for patients with dementia. I interacted with one patient in particular; despite my French fluency, we communicated solely through faded watercolor pens on paper. The patient was reclaiming her sense of self in the act of painting. The cornerstone of my research is an empathetic approach to memory failure, both clinically and artistically.

My multidisciplinary practice also evolved from an emphasis on process. I view the processes of artmaking and neuroscience laboratory work as homologous modes of experimentation. My technical process in artmaking is a parallel practice to sampling, testing, and reproducing in the neuroscience lab. I physically manipulate and transform materials, which stand in for surgically and chemically modified laboratory animals. Manually plasma-cut steel parts mimic the procedures of cutting, bending, grinding, and welding enacted upon lace paper, acrylic, ink, gel, and charcoal. Steel is deceivingly malleable while durable and tough—a material whose transformation processes embody my life experience of absorbing and molding into distinct socio-cultural behaviors.

Psychically, my fragmented sense of belonging relates metaphorically to flawed neurodegenerative memory retrieval. My father’s occupation demanded our family’s relocation every 1–3 years to the capital cities of the following in chronological order: U.S., Singapore, Sudan, South Korea, Iran, Morocco, South Korea (again), and France. Language acquisition was my tool for social survival and to renew and cultivate my sense of belonging. The different languages occupy my memory’s spatial, temporal, and cultural dimensions. These competing linguistic cultures complicate my desire to connect with my parents’ native Korean language and heritage. For example, in my mixed media works, I weave in a single word in Hangul, the Korean alphabet, to ruminate on my defenselessness against turbulence, shifting, and inaccurate translations.

I am seeking transdisciplinary collaborations to explore a polyglot discourse of art and neuropathology. Through neurological and biophilic references, my artworks fantasize about mutated, self-sustaining biomorphic forms that envision our hope to circumvent brain disease. My works explore the ethical and humanitarian implications of combined material and methodology. I aim to join an artistic community that celebrates hybridized research and collaborative, multidisciplinary studio practice.