When I was little, a girl, I thought I was Korean. I thought that being born someplace meant that you were of that place, you could name yourself when you named the place, and consequently, you could name your children that, too. Your grandchildren. How many of us are called American, despite our origins, our ethnicity, our lineage?
“You’re not Korean,” my mother told me once when she heard me say to a playmate that I was.
“You are,” I said.
“No I’m not.”
“But you were born there.” How old was I? Who did I tell? I think it might have been Julie Peterson, the little blond girl who was adopted and lived next door. The girl who was prettier than me, who had her own room while I still had to share mine with my brother. What did I have that she might not?
“I was born there,” my mother said, nodding, ironing. She had a day job, but I remember her standing in our kitchen, ironing. “Still, I am not Korean. And neither are you.”
We are not Korean. I am not Korean.
I am writing an essay (excerpted above) as part of a multi-media exhibition that my husband Philip Hartigan and I are mounting at the 1078 Gallery in Chico, California this month. The exhibition is called “Places I’ve Never Been.” It’s a two part installation bringing together work based on two places that neither of us has been: Korea and Lucerne, Switzerland.
My grandfather was a motorcycle missionary in Korea in the early part of the 1900s. “Climbing the Crooked Trails” is based on letters, documents, and 100-year-old photographs and negatives of my family’s time there.
Philip Hartigan developed a hand-made and printed artist book for “The Lucerne Project,” and also wrote an imaginary travel diary about a trip he never took to a place he’d never been.
As of this writing, Kickstarter says that we have 3 days (71 hours!) left for people to contribute to our project. We met our lowball goal early, and have been lucky to have received some extra funding since then. Kickstarter itself named the project a “Staff Pick”, and even deemed it “Project of the Day in December.
But here’s the thing: our out-of-pocket expenses for this project exceed our goal by quite a bit, so we are grateful for any pledge sent our way. We will be traveling to Chico, presenting an artist talk and reading of excerpts from my essay, and holding a free community workshop at the 1078 Gallery. All pledges will be used to fund the art made, travel, workshops, miscellaneous fees, and supplies used to make “Places I’ve Never Been” successful.
Won’t you please consider helping to support this project? We have many wonderful rewards left, among them artist proofs, original prints on wood panels, DVDs, handmade artist chapbooks, and private workshops.
Thanks to you all for reading, and for supporting the arts in whatever way you have and you do. And best of the New Year to you.
And one more time: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/761144569/places-ive-never-been