Headlands Center for the Arts

Nami Mun

illinois | writing
Artist in Residence Program 2020

Artist Statement

In my life I’ve worn many labels: immigrant, runaway, homeless girl, door-to-door Avon Lady, activities coordinator for a nursing home, GED recipient, bartender, photojournalist, criminal defense investigator, professor, author. Honestly, I don’t think these labels ever come off. Some might fade but I think they are always there—when I ride the El at night, when I teach, when I kiss my son goodbye. I write stories to figure out who or what exists beyond the label. I write to excavate.

While at Headlands

A girl loses her virginity. A journalist loses his job. A motel owner loses a small square of flesh when a gangster scalps his head. A wife gives birth to a stillborn, the infant “slipping out of her body like a cold wet stone.” A country of people loses its land, its name, its language, its hope, while a young mother scars her baby in front of a temple orphanage before leaving him inside a makeshift cubbyhole that instructs: “Slide baby here.” All of this to say: my characters know a thing or two about loss. My first novel, Miles from Nowhere, also dealt with loss, but I now realize it was just the beginning. While at Headlands I’ll be completing my second novel that investigates loss and trauma, and their puppet-string connection to structural injustice, immigration, displacement, and systemic exploitation of women and girls.

Selected Works

Personal Website