I’ve Been Around (For a While), 2018-ongoing
Oil pastel on tracing paper

I’ve Been Around (For a While) is an on-going drawing project based on the collected photographs of strangers. All of the images are either capturing the space I once occupied or left behind in my personal space, but by people I do not recognize and in different time periods. By simplifying details of the photographs, I blur their narrative contents and welcome the audience to turn these memories into their own.

“I am one of those people whose presence raises questions. I am very often greeted with, ‘where you from’ even in the town where I grew up.  ...You’re in somebody else’s house. You are not in charge… Part of being from is an embodiment of what is thought to typify a place, a way of being. Ji Su Kwak reflects on her outside status with a deadpan gaze at someone else’s way of looking. She gathers snapshots from strangers. Who knows what they mean to the folks who took them. There is a sense of remove, a gap between a mnemonic device that recalls a memory and an image removed of its narrative content. We are left uncertain. The images feel familiar, more so because likenesses are lost in Ji Su’s simplifications. We have been there, made that gesture, shared a drink or the meal, gathered to be included in the group that was there. Pushing the shutter release defines the group, or reasserts its definitions. Drawing these images does something else. Asks questions about nostalgia more than steeping in it. Refuses to recognize. Sees from further away without actually being further away.” 
- Paul Melvin Hopkin, Curator/Director of Slow