Jihyun Ra

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From Jihyun:

One Sunday morning during a church service I happened to look over the people on the 1st floor from the 2nd floor gallery. The scenery of hundreds of people with variegated skin and hair colors dressed in different pattern and color outfits gathered in one place captured my eyes. What I noticed at that moment was the unity, despite their different appearances and different political, socio-economic and cultural backgrounds. It was a strikingly beautiful moment for me, who came to this melting pot country only 3 years ago from Korea, a mostly homogenous country. The scene reminded me of an enormous oak tree that creates the harmonious beauty with its various branches stemming from a single root. Since then, I started a series of paintings titled “Diversity from One Seed.”

 

Inspired by the unification of diverse people at the church that day, “Diversity from One Seed” series focus on creating the volume and beautiful harmony of a tree from various patterns and textures. With the various patterns and colors, I aim to create harmony. With the various textures, I seek to express the nature of life. Life is like earth. From rocks and dirt, I see the wonderful possibilities to explore. Earth is never smooth or simple. Earth has so much texture and numerous colors. Our life is like earth. Life may be heavy or painful at times but still, we make our marks of life on earth and return to earth. 

The process of my artworks resembles the process of life. First, I pour and mix colors, and put some laces on the canvas. Then, with various media, I create or draw patches and layer them. The multiple layers of patches create harmonious image and volume. Creating or drawing each patch and layering them is a tedious process. It requires a lot of patience and perseverance, just like our life.

 

Recently, I had opportunities to think deeper about the diversity I’ve always dwelled on. With the global pandemic, we all went through unexpected and abrupt changes. And we witnessed the previously hidden hate crimes bursting out in to the open. As an Asian immigrant who loves the beauty of diversity, reading hate crime news scares, concerns and upsets me. However, as Maya Angelou once said, “in diversity there is beauty and there is strength!”

In my early years as an immigrant, I witnessed the beauty of diversity. And now, during this time of division, I want to remind the audience through my works that hope lies in the strength of diversity. I believe that we can restore society and make this world a better place when we believe in the beauty and strength of diversity. I want to convey that hopeful message on the canvas.