I have been following what has been happening with Covid-19 closely since the end of January, partly because the virus was raging in South Korea, where I am originally from. Yet, I could scarcely imagine at the time the worst of the science fiction like reality in New York. I woke up to the reality of Covid-19 on the week of March 10, when all the faculty and students were given hand sanitizers during our mid-term reviews at Parsons MFA Program, where I teach part time. Since then, I have been at times overcome with the grief and anxiety about my beloved city, New York. With all the museums, galleries, theaters, universities and all the other vital cultural institutions closed, New York has become unrecognizable. My days are consumed with trying to teach painting on Zoom and staying in touch with the loved one. In between, I sit in my garden (lucky me) in Brooklyn, worry about the future and cook. I am very looking forward to the days that I can gather with friends in a noise restaurant and raise our glasses for celebrations.
My studio continues to be a sanctuary, now more than ever especially since I am lucky to have the studio at home. When Covid hit, I was thinking about getting started with a new body of work. It is a disorienting time in the studio at the best of times, trying to change the course your work. With all the disorientation of changed world, the work in the studio has been difficult to continue. Yet it has also given me time to contemplate the meaning of art and importance of making art more than ever. I am also helped by artist friends with who I have formed a small crit group to meet every week to discuss our ongoing works via Zoom. In some ways, the isolation has created even more connectedness with friends and family.
I am continuing to work on my portrait series, celebrating the personhood of my subjects, and the detailed pattern work giving me a meditative space to calm my minds and nerves. At the same time, I am thinking of inequalities exposed in this time of pandemic ever more, and exploring new ideas about how domestic spaces function between the ultra-luxurious dwelling and those of working class, especially front line workers who work at grocery stores, make deliveries and work in nursing homes, etc. Perhaps because I am so aware of the privilege of having a studio, a solitary space dedicated to thinking and creating at this moment. I am not sure where this new work is going at the moment, but I am reading, collecting images, doing sketches and collages, and writing. I am looking forward to making work that might somehow help us make sense of what is happening in our society, as so many artists have done in difficult times throughout the history.