September 9 – October 21, 2015
Artist Reception: Saturday, September 12, 6 – 8 p.m.
All events are free and open to the public
Eun–Kyung Suh explores the emotional resonance of the transracial adoptees’ experiences in Minnesota. The complex identities of race, ethnicity and culture are examined through a diasporic lens. The adoptees’ involuntary displacement from their birth country creates a disconnection from their birth family and a yearning for a lost heritage.
In this exhibition, Diaspora, I have investigated the experiences of Korean adoptees in the United States. I focused on their transracial adoption experiences to examine the complex identities of race, ethnicity and culture through a diasporic lens. Particularly, being adopted from Asia unveils the transracial adoption paradox; the contradictory experiences of being raised by Caucasian adoptive parents and perceived by family and friends as a Caucasian and later being viewed by society as an Asian. Their involuntary displacement from their birth country creates a disconnection from their birth family and a yearning for lost heritage. As a result, they often confront identity conflicts in their adoptive society by facing stereotypes and feelings of alienation.
In response to this investigation, I have been creating a series of sculptural vessels as a metaphor for personal, family or cultural memory and history. In this series, a vessel is any type of container used to hold items. These sculptural vessels are created out of diaphanous textiles, using a design originally inspired by Bojagi, a traditional Korean art form. Bojagi is the wrapping cloth used to cover, store or carry everything from precious ritual objects to clothing and common household belongings.
Derived from my exploration of personal and familial past, my interests in how Korean immigrants in the U.S. store, modify, and fantasize a collection of memories grew. In my 2011 exhibition at the Weisman Art Museum, Minneapolis, MN, I created four domestic interiors partitioned by silk organza walls. Each space represented a significant sequence of Korean life with photographs printed on silk walls. As the viewer progressed through the enclosed space, they experienced the constraints and fluctuations of Korean immigrants’ diasporic life. Objects from the Weisman’s collection of historic Korean furniture relating to these life stages were integrated into the installation.
In this exhibition, I encourage the viewer to listen to recorded memories of Korean adoptees in the video as they articulate thoughts, feelings, opinions and ideas about who they are today having explored the trajectory of their lives and to spend time with the portraits to reflect on their unspoken stories.
Korean-born, Duluth-based textile installation artist Eun-Kyung Suh, received her M.F.A. in 2002 from the University of Iowa in Iowa City, IA, USA. Since 2008 she has been focusing on a series of sculptural vessels as a metaphor for personal, family and cultural memories. These sculptural vessels are created out of diaphanous textiles, using a design originally inspired by Bojagi, one of the traditional Korean art forms.
Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, including the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis, MN, Conrad Wilde Gallery, Tucson, AZ, Nord Gallery, San Antonio, TX, Galerie sei-un-do, Zurich, Switzerland, Montreal Center for Contemporary Textiles, Montreal, Canada, Barabas Villa Gallery, Budapest, Hungary, Hwasung Museum, Korea and etc. Her textile work was published in Textiles: The Art of Mankind by Mary Schoeser Thames & Hudson, Dec 2012. Currently Eun-Kyung Suh is a Professor in the Department of Art and Design at the University of Minnesota, Duluth.
Click an image to view in larger size or to begin slideshow:
Voices of Adoption:
Oral Histories from Minnesota’s Korean Adoption Community
1. "Voices of Adoption: Oral Histories from Minnesota’s Korean Adoption Community" is a project created by Rainbow World and financed in part with funds provided by the State of Minnesota from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund through the Minnesota Historical Society.
2. This project is made possible in part through a contribution from the Viz Lab and Motion + Media Across Disciplines (MMAD) Lab at the University of Minnesota Duluth. With special thanks to: Lisa Fitzpatrick, Director of Viz & MMAD Lab, Dan Fitzpatrick, Video Technician, and Student Assistant, Jake McIlquham.
This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through Artist Initiative grants from the Minnesota State Arts Board and McKnight/ARAC Career Development Grant.