Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name



Fine Arts

Degree Program

Studio Art and Design, MFA

Committee Chair

Calvert, Tiffany

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Chan, Ying Kit

Committee Member

Chan, Ying Kit

Committee Member

Gibson, John

Author's Keywords

painting; authenticity; identity; hybridity; art; liminality


My thesis exhibition questions the modern sanctification of authenticity. No longer believing in objective truths, the postmodern society seeks epistemic grounding on being true to oneself. The categories of authentic-or-fake replaced the binary of true-or-false. But authenticity is a trojan horse for authentication. As a Korean American artist, I'm encouraged to express my “authentic” Korean identity. This encouragement can also imply my works will receive recognition as authentic and meaningful only when they embody Korean cultural expression. Authenticity becomes a performance for the sake of authentication. Ironically, authenticity turns into an act of conformity/confirmation. Authenticity demands you stay true to that one unchanging identity, an essentialist understanding. My four bodies of work raise distinct challenges to the essentialist notion of identity. A fabric art installation presents fabric, a fluid medium, to present the fluid nature of identities in contrast to the canvas which suggests a fixed notion of identity. A large piece reflects on the nature of Ocean as water that separates and connects lands, a space of in-between, and liminality. Two series of paintings mixing visual art with music and poetry explore the nature of hybridity. And the presentation of four distinct bodies of works in the same show and same space is itself a contestation of a singular identity. Which of these works is more authentic? That question is not useful, even harmful. Through diverse forms of art, I show I am multiple, expansive, hybrid and fluid.

Included in

Painting Commons