Julia Kwon

District of Columbia
Artist in Residence, 2024

Artist Statement

I sew patchwork textiles in the format of interpretative bojagi—Korean object-wrapping cloths historically created by Korean women who had limited contact with the outside world during the Joseon Dynasty (1392–1910)—to consider ideas such as tradition, craft, and feminized labor, and resist the notion of reductive, easily legible identities. I wrap hollow human-scale figures with object-wrapping cloth to comment on the objectification of Asiatic female bodies. Textiles are activated in relation to the frame, which become metaphors for framing and societal expectations for the authentic. Color gradients that turn to white comment on erasure and whitewashing. I integrate patterns from contemporary sociopolitical events into the textile design to question preconceptions on cultural purity, authenticity, and otherness. I examine local, national, and international issues and events to not only underscore the interconnected systems of oppression, but also argue for more capacious possibilities for one’s identity and sense of community.

While at Headlands

During my residency at Headlands, I will learn more about the urgent issues and concerns of the Bay Area as they relate to greater systems of inequality. I plan to create work that shifts the focus from the search for authentic origins and clear categories to the complexities of constructing identity within the current context of globalism, cultural hybridity, intersectionality, and the collective struggle for social justice.