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Nina

José

TRANSCRIPT

Could you tell us a little bit about yourself? Your name, pronouns, and a brief summary of yourself as a person and a designer? 


So, uh, I introduced myself to people as Sarah Chang, but my full birth name is Soh Young Sara Chang. I go by she and her and I am a Korean-American graphic designer and illustrator. Um, as an artist, I really like to combine elements of Korean and American digital design to create things and experiences the way I see and experience them; kind of my own unique perspective. Um, I also really like to fight against stereotypical ideas and identities. Since these labels have kind of created a lot of passion within me, and I like to challenge them through my design kind of show my perspective on it. Um, yeah.


How do you highlight your individual identity in your work, the intersections between them and what inspired you to share these parts of yourself with the world through your work?


Yeah. So in my work, I like to showcase my nationality, which is Korean-American and that perspective on life, um, by kind of merging these experiences to create designs that reflect this. Growing up, I was pretty ashamed of being Korean, or, Korean-American. Um, it was something that stuck out in my classes when I was younger. I was pretty much one of the only Asians in my classes, pretty small classes of mostly all white, cisgender people. So it was something that I kind of repressed and ignored my whole life and almost wished I would wake up, you know, as a white person the next morning.

 

And over time I learned to kind of, to really appreciate and not take for granted my background, my family history, and love this part of me because it's what makes me different. It, it's what makes me...it gives me a voice, I guess, now, and as a designer, I can really draw from those experiences and create work from them. Um, a lot of my repression has kind of given me a different perspective on life. Um, yeah, and it's shaped the way I experience the world. It influences my work a lot.


How do you want your work to speak to others you may not identify with, and do you have any hopes in reaching out to different communities through your work?


I hope that my experience of rejecting and then eventually appreciating my nationality is able to influence other people to appreciate and love the parts of themselves that they may not always be accepted for. Um, I hope that they can just see through my work, hopefully, that even though you don't appreciate it now, it can really provide a different voice, a different perspective and experience. Um, I feel like following the norm is always the easy route, kind of following what's trendy following what other people are doing, but I don't know. I feel like being different kind of, you're able to kind of show your personality through it. Um, and I, I hope that shows people that they should take advantage of their differences and kind of use it as a strength rather than a negative in their life.


How do you think the industry could consider and incorporate intersectionality in a more direct way, either behind the scenes or in the mainstream?


Um, in a lot of instances, I feel like there are representations of different identities, but they're usually portrayed in a really stereotypical sense, which only further solidifies the negative and derogative ideas around these identities. Um, and I think by bringing attention to actual people, their real experiences, we can kind of shed light on what they go through, learn understanding, acceptance, and empathy towards them. Um, instead of romanticizing these fictional experiences that are not real life kind of, um, yeah. And like, I dunno, I feel like these labels kind of create restrictions on identity, which is what I'm, I'm kind of researching in my senior thesis. I'm highlighting the struggle of Asian-American or Korean-American identity and how many people of color struggle from the statement of being too American and not blank enough.

 

Like I hear a lot, "Oh, you're too American. You're not Korean enough," or "You're too Korean. You're not American enough," from like the outsider point of view. Um, so this is, has kind of influenced my identity, my search for who I am because of such labels being put on me by other people. So I've restricted myself as well. Um, and so in my project, I'm designing wearable garments that illustrate the merge between this Korean and American identity, um, to hopefully create a new label, a new reality for people like myself that are kind of divided in a sense of being American and Korean, um, and kind of create a harmonization between these identities rather than a division. So yeah, I kind of want to create this new sense of being proud of who you are through design, showing that identity is beautiful, differences are beautiful. It's not something that should be hidden or people should be ashamed of.

 

I feel like society sort of creates like you're Asian-American. So this is what you go through. You're good at math, you're bad at driving. You're a meek, submissive Asian woman. You don't have a voice. Um, and I, I feel like that's not true or in my life at least I really try to push back against those stereotypes. So yeah, I hope we can shed some light on real life.


How do you think your experience as a female Asian American artist differs than that of a male Asian American artist?


Um, that's kinda tricky because I feel like now there's a lot of movement towards feminism and just strong women in general, but it depends. I feel like it would depend like where I am, the demographic of people. I still definitely, um, experience first impressions and assumptions. Like if I'm in a place where there are, um, older people, they're men and they're white, there's a lot of, um, sort of dismissing me not listening to what I'm saying, uh, not taking me seriously. And then there are people that are more woke and they want to listen to what I say and appreciate what I have to say.

 

So I definitely feel like there is progression towards sort of understanding and equality, but I feel like there is still a ball and chain around my ankle that I have to kind of carry around and prove my worth, prove that I have a voice. And I have a say in society.


Is there anything else you'd like to mention?


Um, uh, I'll just send you the link to my website and the name of my senior project. I just hope that, I mean, I feel like we all hope this, that there is more of a general sense of equality, general sense of everyone has a voice, acceptance, appreciation. Yeah

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