The Hammer Museum exhibition, Made in L.A., is still on my mind. I wanted to introduce another remarkable artist whose work both dazzles and makes us think. Young Joon Kwak (she/they) is a Korean American artist and performer, and is showcased in the exhibition’s section called “The Feminine Absurd.”
This work caught my eye because it shows how the best conceptual art can also be visually stunning, even humorous in how it reveals its intentions.
Kwak covers bodily forms with resin, glitter, and rhinestones, while inside she gives us glimpses of bodies floating in space. These paintings and sculptures reflect your own image as you move by, so that you cannot quite identify what you’re seeing. The artist’s work is about different ways of understanding queer and trans bodies, asking us to rethink how we look at bodies, to pause before we label them too quickly.
Kwak’s art practice is also fascinating because it reveals how beginnings shape a career. Even artists who are now famous often start out in community venues rather than commercial galleries or museums. Young Joon Kwak first showed at Roxaboxen Exhibitions in Chicago, NP Contemporary Art Center in New York, and Commonwealth and Council in Los Angeles, all nonprofit or artist-run spaces.
Such organizations provide support, community, and connection for artists struggling to make their voices heard. It’s not surprising that Kwak’s first publication was titled “Nothing Great Gets Done Alone.”
So if you’re stuck, or looking for ways to get your own work seen, consider opportunities in nonprofit art spaces. Reach out to these community art venues, support other artists there, and find ways to collaborate.
It seems to me that nothing gets done alone.
Mary Edwards, Ph.D
Career & Life Coach for Artists
“Left Brain Skills for Right Brained People”
As an artist coach, I bring a unique combination of business knowledge, art world experience, and professional coaching skill to my practice.