We have only the evidence of our own lives left all around.

This work brings together my own family history with that of my childhood friend Harrison Creech. Harrison is the son of Southern Baptist missionaries sent to South Korea in 1987. He has subsequently lived in Seoul his whole life, and is raising his two children there. There are five double-sided frames found in this installation. With each, shown on one side are photographs from Harrison’s family, documenting their service in Korea. Opposite are photographs documenting my family’s paths of migration from North Korea, Manchuria, and Hawaii. Central to this work are the terms perpetual visitor and perpetual foreigner. I like to think of each frame as a portal.

These portals were inspired by Ocean Vuong: “I grew up surrounded by Vietnamese refugee women who used stories to create portals. The story is a virtual reality into another world, out of the present, but it’s also a record of where we’ve been, and a story is an inheritance.” I seek to orchestrate the creation of this inheritance, as? I was not surrounded by these stories. Thus the project is a means of collecting stories, spurred by the yearning formed from their absence and erasure. It is a means of sharing that couldn’t be expressed directly. Pictured in one of the frames is a portrait of my grandfather who left his generational homeland (pictured at the bottom) to escape the communists prior to the Korean War. He never saw anyone from his family in North Korea again. The profound loss he experienced in life, alongside losing two wives in childbirth, manifested in hoarding and agoraphobia. In the end, he couldn’t visit his childhood home– nor mine. Evidence of stories like this is found throughout the installation.

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