My art has truly been helpful in understanding my identity as someone from the Korean diaspora. Before this exploration through my work, it was an area that I was afraid to tap into.Cha
The following interview forms part of a series where I invite contemporary artists to each reflect on their personal history, meaning, and philosophy, and how those are expressed throughout their creative process. This week I talk to Cha, a South-Korean American illustrator based in LA, California.
How is your art a means of reflection or exploration for you?
My art has truly been helpful in understanding my identity as someone from the Korean diaspora. Before this exploration through my work, it was an area that I was afraid to tap into. Being able to dig into these deep thoughts and feelings through a medium I enjoy working with, adds comfort and a new perspective that paper and pencil cannot for me. As a bonus, my art helps me to better understand the people around me more. Through that, I’m able to put myself in the shoes of my family, and to fully respect their journey.
What were your main creative challenges in the beginning and how have they changed over time?
I first started to go back into painting because I was really tired of looking at computer screens all day for work. I’ve missed working with my hands. So to get started, I would draw small observations that I’d see throughout my day, little doodles, and crafts here and there – It was fun to get started again! But as I wanted to create more, it was very easy to fall into artist blocks when I didn’t feel a connection with the subject matter. It took a while to realize that having more depth in the work would help with these blocks. Since then, I’ve tapped more into my identity and leaned into my culture for inspiration (as you may have already noticed). I definitely still have artist blocks, but they feel shorter now.
How important is it to make a statement with your works?
I think when I make a statement with my work, it usually affects me the most. Personally, I’m not a very organized thinker, and my brain likes to rush through many thoughts at the same time. A way for me to slow down and to realize what I’m feeling is to focus and execute on a single idea at a time. After deciding on painting a piece, I’m able to look at it and say ”OH, that’s what that was…”. Those thoughts and feelings are very clear by then.
What is the most unsettling work of art you’ve come across?
I saw Ryoji Ikeda, a visual and sound artist, perform ‘Superposition’ once. It was such an intense performance where all of my senses felt 100% activated at the same time. The show was amazing, but his work put me right at the edge of complete discomfort at one point. His ability to bring me so many reactions, positive and negative, in such a short amount of time, is unsettling and exhilarating.
What will be/are some of the by-products to society of everyone having the ability to take pictures or a video at any time?
I think what’s happening with very easy access to cameras, is the lack of appreciation of the moment. How many times have I seen people watch a live concert through the lens of their phone! I often wonder if they’d see those videos or photos again. I’m regretfully one of those people sometimes. I have 25,000 photos/videos on my phone right now, and I rarely look through all of them anyway (unless I’m waiting in a very long line in a Doctor’s office or at the DMV). I’m sure I’ve missed many moments to be present.
If you were given enough money to open a small museum, what kind of museum would you create?
I’ve always wanted to design and create a children’s museum or even a gallery show for kids. It would combine elements of interactivity, physical pieces, and other immersive experiences. Seems like there would be endless opportunities for play, 0 seriousness, and all of the colors that I could dream of.
See more of Cha’s work and keep up to date with upcoming exhibitions: Instagram