While in Chicago, I missed the opening night of the Bojagi: Unwrapping Korean American Identities exhibition at Wing Luke Museum (November 14, 2014 – June 21, 2015). I had the pleasure of serving on the planning committee for this exhibit that “brings together diverse perspectives to explore and challenge what it means to be Korean American.” Tom and I checked out the exhibit this afternoon, and I was so moved to see how it has all come together.
In addition to serving on the planning committee, they interviewed my daughter Lucia and I, and asked us to reflect on what being Korean American means to us. Our stories & voices were combined with many others, forming installations throughout the exhibit that explore issues of identity and belonging using video, text and/or sound.
We also donated several personal items–including Lucia’s Dol Hanbok that she wore on her first birthday, the wedding cloth that we used to catch chestnuts during our ceremony, a painting of village women cooking, and several family portraits.
I was caught off guard by the power of seeing these personal items so carefully placed, perfectly lit, made available for people to peruse, consider, interpret, discuss. It’s bringing attention to an aspect of my life that I mostly took for granted. And while I have not always been included in Korean spaces, I haven’t felt excluded in a long time…perhaps in part due to the film.
Over the past 3 years, A Lot Like You has been invited to screen at many prominent Asian American film festivals. I’ve been so moved by how this family story, which takes place almost exclusively on Mt. Kilimanjaro, is being seen as relevant to understanding the Asian American experience here in N America.
And still, my initial response to our personal items being on display is an overwhelming sense of Feeling Seen…and feeling profoundly grateful for having our mixed family’s brand of Korean-ness treated with such dignity.
I will no doubt return to this exhibit many times in the coming months, and expect my relationship to this exhibit will continue to evolve. In the meantime, if you’re in Seattle between now and June 2015, be sure to check out this interactive exhibit that invites us all to consider the complexities of what it means to be Korean American…