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Towards a Freedom to Be Oneself
Lisa Lee

Towards a Freedom to Be Oneself



"Towards a Freedom to Be Oneself" Acrylic on canvas 24" x 18" (60.96cm X 45.72cm) 2021 My art is different. My art is bold. My art contains a history of a process. My art releases my emotions through expression. I wanted to create a piece to express my hopelessness for my fellow South Koreans. In the corner is Yu Gwan-Soon, a prominent figure in the Korean independence movement in 1919. Yu was only a teenage girl but she fought for the freedom of our people until she was tortured to death after being captured. Sadly, when I visit Korea, I feel far from free. I am always told by my close friends and family that I am too fat now after moving to America. I am also too dark and too old looking according to them. I am always told to put on some makeup, put on less makeup, or to get some plastic surgery. 100% of my friends there go on diets and get plastic surgery and botox regularly. When I go to Korea, I often lose my confidence and lose my direction. It feels like there is such a narrow range of "me" that people want from me. Nobody seems to want to listen to my ideas, only critique my looks. I also feel bad for my fellow friends who have to work hard each day only to save up money for more plastic surgery, and believe that it will bring happiness. I searched the internet out of curiosity, and learned that not all Korean women are living this lifestyle. There are other Korean women like me out there, who live in Korea. They are the so-called "Tal-Corset" also known as women who choose to "Take off their corsets." To resist the plastic surgery lifestyle, they cut their hair off, take their makeup off, and wear pants. My painting pays tribute to these women as well. The background of the painting is a building with its shining signs advertising plastic surgery clinics in Korea. On the bottom right, a girl dressed in clothing of people during the independence movement in 1919 is spray-painting the sign. Above her are two "Tal-Corset" women spray- painting the other signs. In front of Yu Gwan-Soon, the plastic surgery sign says "Nose surgery specialists" in front of her nose that is not fit to modern Korean beauty standards to exaggerate the situation. The freedom that Yu longed for, do we really have it now? The big black blob in the middle and messy appearance represent my personal resistance against finishing a painting and giving into standards of the art world, parallel to the Tal-Corsets resisting South Korean beauty standards. Artist: Lisa Lee

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