Kay Kang

As an émigré to the United States from Seoul, Korea, the story of the immigrant in American society is of special importance to me and has been a central influence in my work. The images in my paintings convey concepts and emotions in a “universal” language that can be internalized by people from all cultures and backgrounds. It’s a language that viewers can “read” and interpret based on their own personal experiences. “A Picture is ……………….. Thousand Words” is an example of one piece that speaks in this “universal” language. It is composed of 221 wood blocks which collectively comprise my sketchbook entries over a five-year period. The images on these blocks are derived from Chinese characters I had learned as child, but had little opportunity to practice after moving to the United States in 1970. In the 1980s, I “rediscovered” these characters in the natural flora and fauna of the Pacific Ocean. In the undulating and evolving patterns of the ocean waters I discovered a new language – one that transformed formal Chinese calligraphic characters into a new pictorial language based on patterns created by shells, seaweed and sea creatures. I communicated this new language through my daily sketchbook entries, which I later titled “A Picture is ……… Thousand Words.”  Viewing this work from left to right, one can experience how I use this pictorial language as a means to narrate stories and concerns that are simultaneously personal and universal. This undecipherable language suggests both the power and failure of language in communicating ideas.

Six Strokes 42x32

Six Strokes 42×32


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Building 101, Studio 2201



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