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Two of a Kind is a body of work that uses cloisonné enamel to visually depict the frustrations of being a Korean American living in the United States during a socio-political climate that is intolerant of immigrants. The tiger and the rabbit in Korean culture are depicted in many folk tales and for that reason I use them to portray Korean identity, while I use the eagle and the Statue of Liberty as the symbols for American identity.  By having tigers, rabbits, eagles, and Statue of Liberty juxtaposed with one another, viewers are introduced to the challenge that comes from being immersed in two different cultures. 

This body of work reflects the different aspects of having dual identity. Longing to Belong conveys a sense of loneliness, isolation, and a yearning to connect with others. The distance between the bunny on the moon and the Earth visually represents a disconnect while also implying dimension. The disparity between the sizes of the moon and the Earth further exaggerates the implied distance. Korean American Scale communicates the feeling of loss, disorientation, and confusion. The stripes of the Korean tiger depicted on the eagles represents the fusion of American and Korean cultures. Each grouping ranks different stereotypes and asks the viewers to rank themselves, thereby making them aware of the indignation of being stereotyped. Frustration and inequality are the subjects of What ARE You, and these themes are heightened through the display. The American passport is behind a vitrine and surrounded by a stanchion, the Korean American passport is behind a vitrine only, and the Korean passport is exposed.  

I hope to exchange thoughts and feelings in a non-combative environment using this body of work. Two of a Kind utilizes whimsical imagery and beautiful rendering of cloisonné to lighten the mood during a serious conversation. Using cloisonné preserves the traditional art form that is important to my culture. By exposing viewers to sensitive topics, I am challenging them to recognize their biases and respond with according sensitivity. Viewers should observe biculturalism without expecting a blending that is more palatable and should dismantle the unspoken hierarchy.

©Seul Yi Metalsmith. All rights reserved

seulyimetalsmith@gmail.com

Pittsburgh, PA

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Korean American Scale - Morphology

Korean American Scale communicates the feeling of loss, disorientation, and confusion. The stripes of the Korean tiger depicted on the eagles represents the fusion of American and Korean cultures. Each grouping ranks different stereotypes and asks the viewers to rank themselves, thereby making them aware of the indignation of being stereotyped. Copper, Enamel, Sterling Silver, Painted Brass, Spring Steel. 36 X 6 Inches