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LEEAH JOO

        DOKKEBI & OTHER TALES

4 NOV, 2011

A Statement by the artist for “Dokkebi and Other Tales:

 

"I've been reading to my young children about Korean legends and folktales. In search of intriguing, seductive stories of mythical creatures to captivate the minds of small children, I turned to allegories that combine legends of heavenly creatures, beasts and humans testing their moral character.These ancient tales led me to my current body of drawings and paintings, which appropriates these creatures and their adventures to be recontextualized with contemporary references. The recent book by Amy Chua “The Battle Hymn of Tiger Mother”, popularized the term 'tiger mom', where the significance of the tiger, an ancient symbol for power and aggression is revived to its glory. But the folktales often portray the tiger to be strong but not clever. In every scenario, it's the tiger's gullibility and complacency that undermines its physical prowess. Wesley Wang's essay in response to the 'tiger mom' phenomenon, aptly titled “Paper Tigers”, refers to this duplicitous connotations of a tiger, to illustrate the Asian-Americans who study and work fearlessly to succeed, only to be halted by the social side effects of that valiant effort. An ancient image of a tiger based on a 15th century painting from Korea roams in many of my works as a reminder of the lessons learned from the folktales and its relevance to now.As a mother raising children of mixed cultures in this complicated multicultural society, I am compelled to excavate the gems of the past to be presented in a new context for my children, to instill connection, not to look back but to examine and redefine where you belong in the world. Likewise in my work, I utilize images and methods that may be familiar or ancient, to tell a tale that is personal and new."

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