2018, Embroidery using artist’s own hair on handmade Japanese paper, museum board, transfer print for colophon, Size: 85” x 5” x 3” (open size), 3” x 5” x 0.5” (closed)
Special Collections and University Archives recently acquired this unique and poignant artist book by Sun Young Kang. The artistry and symbolism it exhibits is stunning and empowering. She was born and raised in Korea, but her career as an artist has been established in the USA. As an immigrant artist, who bridges two cultures, she has felt that she belonged to neither, but, rather, is marginal, residing on the edge of each. Her art visualizes the space in between, the boundary that, while separating the two, connects them in that one implies the other. For her, trying to bridge two identities, that boundary has a personal, emotional resonance.
“Hair in my work represents a connection to home, identity, and a link between past and future. Shed hair is a metaphor for memory loss, detached self, isolation, and disconnection. Sewing my hair into my work is my attempt to reconnect and heal. “
“Shed hair is no longer physically part of me, but it still contains information (Genetic, protein, etc.) that are specifically myself. The only difference is in the loss of physical connection. This piece questions how this common thinking reflects how people relate/connect to each other.”
“As a person who always feels living in between two cultures feeling forever outsider in either place, this thought also reflects how immigrants are often separated from their families, so that emotional connection is weakened or even lost over time and the people become more isolated from their homeland that way.”
-Sun Young Kang