Why I decided to be a visual artist?
Ok, I did not always want to be the visual artist. Because the prospects there are poor. Just look at Van Gogh….
When I went to college in 1997 my goal was pretty clearly in animation. But as time passed I found myself stuck between the two roads and unable to choose. I thought I had it worked out: a steady job in a cubicle with decent income and the benefits, a nice condo in the city of L.A., those social gatherings with coworkers and friends, and whatever else that comes with a typical career woman lifestyle.
It was in 2002 that whole vision broke down like a Jenga tower: I met and fell in love for the first time in my 22 lonely years of life, only to have it fall apart less than four months later with an utter betrayal (which could have been avoided if I had not been so gullible). I was thrust into a pit of despair and darkness that took me almost two years to escape from, only to let myself fall into the exact same trap again with another guy, just after I had barely healed from my wounds.
Since then my perspectives on life became as distorted as Picasso’s Guernica. Instead of four years I had planned to complete my college education it stretched to eight years, and I really can’t remember what I had learned there. After graduation I was left with no clue where I wanted to go; that original vision was long erased from my memory. I struggled to find the right jobs facing rejection after another, and even my short stint as freelance illustrator brought back little returns. Those times made me question my ability and destiny as an artist, and that self-doubt and lack of confidence led me to give up all hope of that comfortable art career I had once envisioned and shift my focus on another career path at my family’s urging.
Then 2010 began another emotional tsunami with my Mother being diagnosed with lymphoma, just few months after we threw her the traditional Korean 60th birthday bash. She started chemo almost immediately that took six months to complete, followed by long recovery period at home. Being the only kid left at home with her parents, I bore most of the burdens of a full-time caregiver. Then in 2012, coincidently linked with the forecast of doomsday, my Father was diagnosed with gastric cancer, followed only six months later by Mom’s lymphoma relapsing, and this time she spends a month in the hospital for a grueling stem-cell transplant regimen. While the world did not come to a crashing end, for me it was torment and misery of apocalyptic proportions. Adding to the fact that I was now in my early thirties with no job and not enough money to call it a bank account it dawned on me that the nightmare vision I once had was coming true: a homeless, drug-crunching vagabond with no hope of happiness doomed to end my days in a body bag of a coroner’s office with a stench of rotting corpses.
Through these tumultuous years I unconsciously found myself turning for comfort in one place I once abandoned: art. I didn’t do much drawing, but did more reading of art books, and learning about various past artists, most of whom I had not really cared for back in school. Along with few trips to museums I discovered new grounds I had not ventured before. I became intrigued by all things postmodern art, looking upon prolific artists of the movement such as Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring, and the forerunners of the hilariously titled “Bad Painting” a group that was first founded in France in the mid-20th century that rejected all traditional and conventional teachings of art and chose to act upon their own instincts. Emboldened by these discoveries I made a now iron clad decision: to make art not by which I had once been tethered to, but whatever comes from the honest to goodness of my heart. I accepted that my past years are not wasted, but they are rich sources of inspiration from which I now draw my art.
To be continued…it’s pretty draining when you literally bare your soul…