In the summer of 2022, I studied at Ewha Womans University in Seoul, South Korea. It was my first time being on a plane alone. It was my first time being somewhere so different from home. But even though most people didn’t speak English, I never felt alone. I felt such an overwhelming sense of belonging from Seoul. I was inspired by local students my age, bustling around Hongdae in flashy outfits, covered in mediocre tattoos; taking photos of each other, drinking, being happy, creating art. It wasn’t until I visited Seoul that I realized that you don’t have to be one thing to be a successful artist; you just have to be. It also allowed me to realize how small I am, but still so important at the same time. The work that I make is not something that can be replicated, no matter where I go. I felt a lot more comfortable in my own identity after living in Seoul, as well. Traveling around by myself made me realize how strong I am, and how I really can do anything without relying on others.
To honor the self-respect and appreciation that I gained when living in Seoul, I decided to create my senior thesis medium based on a lot of traditional Korean paintings that I studied in my time abroad. I loved to visit art museums and look at a variety of Korean paintings, especially Minhwa (민화) which is a Korean folk art that exhibits people’s freedom of expression and “hope in carefree unconventionality”. All of these works told a variety of stories that captivated me, and I wanted to create my own version for my Integrated Project. Even though I didn’t speak much Korean, I understood these works; and I want my works to be accessible to everybody, no matter what language they speak.