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Kyong Boon Oh / Chorus of the Displaced / Crafton Hills College Art Gallery

Kyong Boon Oh

Chorus of the Displaced

Crafton Hills College Art Gallery, Yucaipa, CA

March 4 - April 11, 2024

Artist Statement:

The exhibition ‘Chorus of the Displaced’ is an exploration of the Korean War’s aftermath on my father and its resonance with my own diasporic journey as a first-generation immigrant artist.

It serves as a personal map that navigates the complex and often uncharted terrain of the displacement and also as a showcase of the geopolitical power struggles, including the colonization and division of Korea shaped by the Cold War and superpower rivalries.

Weaving influences from Handicrafts, personal and historical narratives, I recontextulize them with the modernist artistic approaches and narrative deconstructions to contemplate overlooked narratives, while projecting possible identities for the marginalized and providing a commentary on redemptive identity.

Combining artisanal approach, a process-based abstraction inspired by traditional Asian Crafts and Expressionism with the industrial and commercial materials, I push the boundaries of material to evoke emotion and to challenge the viewer's perspective.

Using the interior-exterior juxtaposition of my sculptures and collages of imagery intertwined with metal wire as a metaphor of dislocation, nostalgia, assimilation, and desire for belonging, I make my art, situated between chaos and order, emotion and meditation.

And contemplating my father’s uprooted trauma from the entire family, I understand his avoidance of modern tools like video chats with me across continents as a bitter reminder of past disconnection. It prompts reflection on 'genetic trauma' and the lingering impacts of historical tragedies on individual human psyches.

Juxtaposing sculptural installations of the Korean War in 1950 including my religious chanting and interviews of my father with Verdi’s ‘Chorus of the Hebrew slaves’ from the opera Nabucco, recollecting the period of Babylonian captivity in 586 BCE with a view of the repetitive handicraft method as a physical pathway for the mind and the continuity of time, I hope "Chorus of the Displaced" will be a mapping to reveal a personal history as a communal destiny that transcends time and space with aspirations for redemption, so beyond the melancholia, this unresolved longing for ideals, allude to transcendence of the self.


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