My artwork is a gathering of softly rendered illustrations depicting a culmination of imagined figures caught in witnessing a world of association and circumstance.
As a child, I was raised from infancy in a home with parents, and a broader community, who did not visually reflect my likeness. I began an emotional survivalist process of piecing together bits of familiarities. Because of my limited ability to express my experiences verbally, I sought reference to the visual cues available to me, which helped me translate the complexity of my confusion. I imagined realities to replicate an identity mirroring those around me – images that would later be juxtaposed with a fragmented idea of “belongingness.” Subsequently, the places where I could see the most precise representation of my own life were through child adoption publications, animals, and the plant world.
Today, this mimicry is still a form of coping, often in a state of aloneness, which facilitates intricate familiarity. Portraits represent implied fragility and act as the departure point for an exploration in which I, as the artist and then the viewer, indulge in recrafting one’s understanding of reality. With a specified interest in the pendulums of power, innocence, and intuition, the intersecting truths of narratives become rewritten for the bodies of “the other,” which one will most likely never meet in real-time or space.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Okja Kwon (b. 1981) is a Korean-born, transracial adoptee artist who communicates through intimate illustrative image-making.
In response to attempts to transcend an identity historically rooted in imperialism, global capitalism, and desirability, Kwon draws upon metaphors that take ritualistic form. The enactment of “witnessing” provides a compilation of whispered ideations and fragmented (re)imagined remembrances of in-betweenness, all in an attempt to build an intuitive and otherworldly bridge to transcend blurred relations.
© Okja Kwon