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Meet Sally Chung

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sally Chung.

So, before we jump into specific questions, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I got my BA in Fine Arts at UCLA and true to form right after school, I was a broke college student. You have lofty desires when you graduate and I knew I wanted to continue making the kind of art you fantasize about in undergrad, I just had to do it in an economical way. I found that ink and paper was a relatively low-cost way to make my paintings, and ever since then it’s taken me on a journey to exploring the roots of ink drawings in Korean folk art and eventually informed what I make work about now.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
It’s not always an easy thing to do what you love. I think people lose it along the way because it takes so much work and sacrifices. I’m not saying I’ve been a prime example of what sweat and tears amounts to, I’ve lost my will to create countless times over the years. It drives you crazy. It drives you crazy to want to be absolutely original and at the same time master your craft. It is an emotionally taxing, ridiculous thing to want to be an artist, but when you make something that you can call entirely your own, it is a beautiful thing. At a certain point, you hit a groove and when you’re jamming and everything falls into place, it becomes all-consuming. A feeling I haven’t found a replacement for in any other facet of my life.

I’ve probably given up more times than I can count. I’ve spent years trying to isolate myself from society and spend most days out of the year in the mountains. I’ve tried to follow a nursing career (twice). But it always comes back to making work as an artist. I think I’ve finally come to a point in my life where I know this is what I want to do, what I need to work towards even when it gets hard or unrealistic. I’m not finally there, but each year I take a break from this path, I come back with more of a desire to make the kind of work I’ve always envisioned myself doing.

Please tell us more about your art.
Making large-scale ink drawings has taken me on a path to discovering ancient Korean ink drawings and indulging in Korean mythology. These days I am most interested in formality of gestural strokes in ink painting and it’s informed the subject matter I gravitate towards. I’ve been obsessed with images of Korean battle scenes. Korea has had its fair share of colonizers and at one point, it almost eradicated our cultural framework. There’s a lot of pain and anguish running through a lot of our personal histories and as a nation, we have a shared cultural phenomenon called ‘Han’ to personify it. So I paint warriors, they are in a constant warring with the world, themselves, their demons. The strokes are a derivative of those feelings, the violence in unrest.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
My plans are much of the same. Making as much as my own work as possible, finding new peaks to climb and fishing. I basically live the life of a retired old person, and I love it.

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Image Credit:
Sally Chung

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