This Is Where We Grew Up: Artist Statement
The paper crane, according to Japanese, Chinese, and Korean folklore, is a symbol of longevity, happiness, and peace. As a Korean American whose identity partially assumes both Korean and American heritages, it has come to mean a number of other things to me: exotic, beautiful, fragile. Being made of paper but requiring effort to fold, it is at once disposable yet precious.
In This Is Where We Grew Up, the paper cranes are digitally collaged onto disintegrating landscapes that are dense with history, such as the Leimert Park neighborhood in Los Angeles, Lancaster, the Salton Sea, and various other locations in Southern California. Each photograph is a scene in which both the paper crane and its surroundings are the subjects. The crumbling landscape appears to tower over the paper crane, and in turn, the striking color and incongruity of the paper crane brings salience to its presence. Not quite embracing each other, they cautiously seem to observe one another. Yet, their outward differences are not so different: they are saturated in their cultural histories but vulnerable to outside forces.