The World We Constructed

Photo by Emma Tolliver

By Emma Tolliver

My piece, a mixed-media piece utilizing photography, wood, vinyl fabric, gouache paint, zip-ties, and yarn, is about my identity as the daughter of immigrants.

When my 할아버지 (romanization: harabeoji, Korean for “Grandpa”) immigrated to the United States, he was fleeing a traumatic situation. He built a koi pond on the first piece of land that he owned in the United States, and it was the first time he had toiled on land to physically create something for himself. I, too, have fled to build a better life for myself, and I have found peace and healing in physical creation. I have created a drum with the image of a koi fish pond on the face of the drum; I am carrying the world he created and I am creating my own world in the process. Healing in the face of trauma is revolutionary. We found ways to take up space and to express ourselves by constructing worlds for ourselves.

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