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Well, it’s only been a year and a half … why not start blogging again? I thought brightly. Then I realized there is a staggering amount to catch up on—which I’ll try to keep brief—but let’s start with the future: I have new work in two shows in Seattle this month.

The first is at ARTS at King Street Station, First Thursday (Nov. 7), from 5pm to 7pm. The theme is “Brighter Future,” which is a liberational concept that I liked, except that all my work is dark and pessimistic, so it took a while to find an appropriate piece. It turned out to be this large-ish gouache on paper piece, “Beyond the Time Being.”

72402130_2941726092521348_955551535264169984_n The second show is at Vermillion, Second Thursday (Nov. 14), from 6pm to 9pm. The theme is “Listen,” which is “about granting the human need to be heard and validated. … Listen reminds us of the humanity in each of us and the universal bond that is suffering.” Here is more information on the event and how to get involved. 

What I appreciate about both shows is they center artists of color, and in the case of “Listen,” women artists of color. This aligns with my racial activism work, which has involved most recently working on the Racial Equity Toolkit Team. Here’s the part where I need to catch up a bit.

In the summer of 2018, I got a job as a member of the Racial Equity Toolkit Team, a group of City of Seattle employees and community members that was commissioned by members of the Seattle City Council to audit the Seattle Office for Civil Rights (SOCR). If you peek at the department’s website, you’ll find pages and pages of info, which would take hours to sift through. Somehow, the City felt an audit on its responsibilities, role, and structure would take a mere half of a year to accomplish. Wrong. It took more than a year and was one of the most arduous projects most of us had worked on. I’ll stop there and introduce the members of my team, all of whom I grew to love (and sketch during meetings).


The team’s mission was to apply a Racial Equity Toolkit, a methodology used to ideally disrupt institutional racism, on the entire SOCR department. A crucial part of the process is gathering community feedback in order to center the most marginalized communities of color and, ultimately, ensure racial equity. The subcommittee I was on traveled all over Seattle, asking people about what they knew of the department and how it could be more accountable to community. Another group interviewed City employees, since they are also part of community. Afterward, we analyzed the data and, working in conjunction with Government Alliance on Race and Equity, drew up an intensive 200-plus-page report with our recommendations for City Council.

As a writer on the report, I focused on the Land Acknowledgment (it’s critical to always be aware that we are on stolen and occupied land), the history of racism in Seattle (which could have been an entire tome), and the history of antiracist organizing in Seattle. The latter was the most inspiring part, for me, which leads to another pertinent subject: the Seattle Black Panther Party mural.

Back in February 2018, a good friend of mine asked me whether I’d like to be an artist-mentor for the new art club she was advising at Seattle’s Franklin High School. Its name instantly resonated with me: the Art of Resistance & Resilience. I’d just come back from showing at Sotheby’s, an experience I found both gratifying and weirdly alienating, and was eager to work with high school students on a large-scale project. Together, we painted a 40-foot mural that honored the 50th anniversary of the Seattle Black Panther Party Chapter. The experience was extraordinary, witnessing how dedicated and politically astute these kids were and also meeting some of the Black Panthers themselves.


Here are the kids painting from photos after school. My friend, Lauren Holloway, is on the right, advising. She was careful to center the students, community, and the Black Panthers throughout the entire project, which is really what made is successful.


This was the part I was responsible for. It was such an honor to be painting these Black revolutionaries, who loved their community so much that they were willing to die fighting. It’s important to note that Louie Gong, founder of the incredible Native American company Eighth Generation, generously allowed us to move the mural to his studio during Winter Break so we could continue working on it. (His painting can be seen in the upper right corner.)

73270392_2985542544806369_4181308438279618560_o.jpgThe mural now hangs on the outside of the school fence, at the intersection of Rainier and MLK. It’s a show-stopper, and even the Black Panther members have approved of it. Recently, both the mural and the art club were even mentioned in the New York Times

Earlier this year, I got to work with Art of Resistance & Resilience again on the stage set of Don’t Call It a Riot, by Aurore Amontaine. The students were paid for their work, and the background panels turned out gorgeous. Aurore stands in front of the set below.


Around this time, I was offered the opportunity to contribute to a mural for my favorite radio station, KEXP, for their “Six Degrees of Prince” program. Based loosely around the theme of Prince, the music spanned from punk to hip-hop in a seamless way for 12 hours—no easy feat for the DJs or the mural artists that had to keep up, illustrating the song titles and artists. We each had a two-hour chunk of time, but I teamed up for an additional two more hours, collaborating with my friend Connie Ostrowski. Here are some photos; more can be seen here.



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As you can see above, Connie’s and my style dovetailed nicely.

Well, that wraps it up. Gotta go finish my painting for the second show this month (confirming that artists do, indeed, work up until the last minute). Thanks for reading and check out my most recent work on Instagram!

This pic was taken in Sotheby’s, the famous auction house founded in 1744, in the heart of Manhattan. Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined that I’d have a piece in a show there.


But it turns out, I did—in the AD ART SHOW last February.

1_MVVO sign

AD ART SHOW, organized by MvVO, took up two floors of Sotheby’s. It was hung like a museum show, rather than a gallery, thanks to curator Isaac Aden.

3_MVVO show wall

MvVO is an organization whose intent is to create opportunities for artists by negotiating the junction of art and commerce. The show itself featured an international roster of artists, including a few luminaries from the advertising world.

4_MVVO show artist list.jpg

My piece, to the right of the sculpture, had a luxurious amount of space around it.

5_MVVO gallery

Below is the piece I had in the show: “Camp” (2012). Consisting of loops of used Scotch tape on paper, this conceptual collage is a meditation on both the tenacity of internment camp survivors and the erosion of their cultural/racial identities. The ample white space and grid formation are meant to suggest the geographic isolation of these military-run camps.


This is one of many conceptual collage pieces I’ve made around racial politics, using everyday materials. You can see more on my website here.

The opening to the show was packed; it seemed like the NYC art world was out in full resplendence. It had been 24 years since I’d last been in Manhattan, and I was completely smitten at the scale, magnitude, and density of the city. It was mind-boggling to me that I was standing on the polished floors of one of the most venerable auction houses in the world with a piece on display.

I never forget my humble roots in Seattle, showing at cafes, then eventually the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience and a few well-known galleries.

Soon I’ll have 15 pieces for sale on Artsy Premium, where global collectors go. It’s exciting (and a bit nerve-wracking) to be entering this arena, but I’m thankful for the opportunity and will see how it goes.

But in the meantime, I’m enjoying working with Franklin High School art club students on a mural commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Seattle Black Panther Party. These diverse kids are such an inspiration, and it’s a gift to be able to work alongside them and Lauren Holloway, the organizer of the Art of Resistance & Resilience club to which they belong.

(pic by Lauren Holloway)

The art world is its own interesting organism, but community activism is vital. I’m in the odd position of straddling both right now, but so far, so good!

It’s been a while. The ghastly political climate in America has made me temporarily give up on any creative activity (including this blog!). Instead, I’ve been using all my energy on activism, in the streets, in the community, and at my job, where I cofounded an inclusion initiative.

However, I did manage to write a review for Alison MacLeod’s All the Beloved Ghosts for the Los Angeles Review of Books earlier this year. You can read it here.

And I have a commissioned painting, featured in a global ad campaign for Lumicor, that appeared in Interior Design. Its orientation has changed, and it’s cropped, but you can still get a sense of the piece.

Interior Design spread

Well, that’s one minimal post, I’m afraid, but my creativity is virtually nonexistent (which is ironic, since it follows my most artistically successful year yet). Hopefully I’ll recover from the horrifying national crisis the Trump administration has put us in, and become more productive again soon!

Yeah, we’re not talking about the election. Instead, I’m just doubling down on my activism.

Like doing a lot of this.
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Black Lives Matter Not Black Friday protest, downtown Seattle, Nov. 25, 2016 (photo by me)

But also making art about racial politics and helping center people of color. For this reason, I’m happy to be included in this group show in Tacoma, Washington:

Organized by the CultureShock Collective, High Blood features all artists of color (I’m just waiting for a Trump supporter to start bawling about anti-white discrimination—they can cry me a motherfucking river).

Already there have been favorable reviews in Tacoma’s News Tribune and the International Examiner, and I’m honored to have my work mentioned in both. The show is pioneering and will hopefully kick off a more serious discussion about inclusivity in the Northwest art scene.

In addition, I have a multimedia piece (which had been at the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience) in this group show at North Seattle College Art Gallery, which opens tomorrow.

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If you find yourself north or south of Seattle, I encourage you to check out either show!

On November 27, the Black Lives Matter, Not Black Friday protest shook up the retail core of Seattle. I stayed for as long as I could and documented it.

1 PM: Signs in Century Square, the de facto heart of the retail district.

Protesters strain to hear the speaker’s bullhorns over the blare of Christmas carols, Century Square.

Holiday shoppers watch the protest from the safety of Westlake Center, a popular downtown mall.

Blocking intersection_mic checkSeveral hundred demonstrators occupied intersections while POC (people of color) speakers used an Occupy-style “human microphone” to spread their message.

Blocking intersectionDisrupting traffic in Seattle: some motorists were frustrated, while others were empathetic and waited patiently.

WP_20151127_096Occupying a popular intersection beside corporate retailer Nordstrom—fuck the holiday season, start a revolution!

Signs outside Westlake Ctr
3 PM: First attempt to get into Westlake Center, at the north entrance …

Altercation_Westlake Ctr… which doesn’t end well (cops 1, POC 0)–the first arrest of four arrests made that day.

White allies at protest
The crowd of protesters was diverse, with many white allies.

Cops and WTFAn attempt by protesters to enter Pacific Place, an upscale shopping center, brings cops–and a few incongruous self-designated “superheroes” (costumed vigilantes).

Forever 21 protestProtesters occupied all four floors of Forever 21, a corporate retailer guilty of unethical practices.

The organizers of protest4:15 PM: A quick conversation, as police block off streets, before heading to Westlake Center for the tree lighting–and the latter half of the protest.

BLM protest_Black Friday
The Slog, the daily blog run by The Stranger (one of Seattle’s weekly papers), covered the protest and captured, among many other people, me (in dark glasses, foreground). I lost most of my voice shouting and leading chants.

I need to figure out how to upload some video footage here. It features protesters infiltrating Macy’s, even as a security guard tried to shut its doors, and occupying Forever 21. At the latter store, I was right behind one of the march’s organizers when she simply and miraculously opened one of its doors and said, “Come on in.” Then we all swept in—an unstoppable tide of people that took about 15 minutes to all get through the door. We rode the escalators to the top of the store, shouting chants like “Black lives matter, not this shit.” Shoppers were flummoxed or pretended to ignore us while scurrying to the dressing rooms, but a few pumped their fists in solidarity.

The Black Lives Matter march went on to effectively disrupt the tree lighting ceremony and finally infiltrate the two downtown malls. Some great photos and coverage can be found here. Four arrests were made, but there were no blast balls, tear gas, or major violence like I’d experienced during the WTO. And unlike the Martin Luther King Day Black Lives Matter march earlier this year, it didn’t end in the cops going crazy with the pepper spray. So in that respect, the protest was a relative success. However, many white shoppers became irate, completely overlooking the point of the protest: black lives matter more than consumerism.

Michael Brown. Trayvon Martin. Tamir Rice. Sandra Bland. Eric Garner. Freddie Gray. Tanisha Anderson. LaQuan McDonald. The countless unnamed by the media.

So many. Too many. Black lives matter. Say it with me—not all lives matter”—that’s also true but missing the goddamn point here.

Black lives. All of them. Protected and respected. That may sound like a liberational fantasy, but that’s what protests like these are working toward.

Affecting corporate retailers—America’s money—like Chicago’s protesters did on North Michigan Avenue, is the best way of getting attention and pointing to where the real value lies. Not in 40% off the Kindle Unlimited, but in the black lives lost and those that need to be fiercely and lovingly cherished and preserved.

bojagi art show

I’m very proud to have a multimedia piece in an upcoming show at the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience in Seattle–an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institute. The show is called Bojagi: Unwrapping Korean American Identities, and it opens November 14 and runs until June 2015.

As a Korean-American artist, I constantly deal with hybridized identity in my work, which can be found at The piece that will be displayed at the museum is called Displacing Rage: The Education of a Cultural Hybrid, and can be found on my site at

Here is a still from the presentation, where I confront a racist classmate in grade school–one of a vast number of racial microaggressions (all part of the minority experience!).

1 displacing rage

If you’re in Seattle, swing by the Wing Luke; it’s a very worthwhile place.

Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience
719 S King St, Seattle, WA 98104
(between 7th and 8th Avenues)
Phone: (206) 623-5124
Hours: Tuesday–Sunday, 10am–5pm
Monday closed

Yesterday, at Greg Kucera Gallery in Seattle, I ended up face to muzzle with a gigantic horse constructed out of sticks. It was one of many Deborah Butterfield horse sculptures showing this month at her 30th anniversary show.

The three horses in the front room have the stature of Clydesdales. Massive and silent, they have the gentle but powerful presence that real horses have. These sculptures are nothing but tangled networks of branches or scrap metal, yet they have an ineffably equine essence about them. Butterfield carefully assembles the salvaged material to evoke sinew, bone, and fat. Sometimes the ears are left out entirely, but the head seems to have its own expression and mood.

I sat down in a room full of smaller horses and sketched “Koai’a,” a piece constructed out of sun-bleached koa wood. Here is a photograph of the piece.


And here is the drawing.


A strange thing happened, once it was recorded in ink. The essence of horse was gone; the sculpture collapsed into an aggregate of artfully placed branches on paper. A stick figure. It made me realize that the sense of the animal was implicit in, and dependent on, the three-dimensional space the sculpture occupies. Even the gaps in the structure gave it a sense of rounded completeness. Each Butterfield horse is a gestural study, where suggestion trumps literal documentation.

When welded rebar or dead branches with pinecones still attached can imply a sense of a living, breathing animal, you know that’s a great sculpture. Deborah Butterfield is a master at her craft, and she obviously speaks native horse.

Show ends November 16. Greg Kucera Gallery, 212 Third Avenue South, Seattle, WA


I’ve been truant in writing, having been enveloped in a maelstrom of activity.

Today, for the first time in a long time, I sit at the window and listen to the polyrhythms of the rain, which imitate bass, toms, and snare. The cymbal hiss of a passing car.

This random percussion barely conceals a widening silence. 

The stillness inside a storm. 

I listen with concentration and patience. And I look through the window panes spangled with silver droplets.

First at the rain itself and then, after a great while, at the brightening skies beyond.

Unfinished business

Unite and fight, rinse and repeat.

Best words of the 2013 March on Washington, from John Lewis:

You cannot stand by. You cannot sit down.

You got to stand up. Speak up. Speak out, and get in the way.

Make some noise!





This past weekend I obsessively created sketch after sketch of a gouged-out bagel (note the insides have been scraped out), because it looked so demolished yet ruggedly beautiful. This exercise was an attempt at sublimating the horror and anguish I felt about the Fukushima radiation leakage. (If you’re not informed about this, then blame the media brown-out.)

In examining the bagel, I realized it looked strangely anatomical and geographical. It had its own topology, with calderas, ridges, and valleys. It looked like a ravaged landscape, like the world that we’ve poisoned. 

What rhymes with race? Debased. Whether that pertains to the Earth we’ve defiled or ourselves as corrupting agents, it is we (or rather, our corporations and governments) who are to blame for the Fukushima mess. We can do a whole lot better than this, and we sure as hell better–and fast.