Hyeree Ro

I grew up straddling two worlds – Korea and California. I am a daughter of an undocumented immigrant, a gardener, a security guard and a single mother with countless temporary jobs. I held F-1 student visa as an international student of an Ivy League institution, receiving full scholarship based on financial status. These disparate worlds, along with elements of the metropolis and jumbled languages, form the uncomfortable place that inspires my artistic practice. Through a range of artistic approaches such as performance, sculpture, installation, drawing, and video, I engage in a multifaceted exploration of object-body engagement and its relationship to language. Drawing from the historical trajectory of performative rituals, I gather forms of affordance and archetype, creating a new syntax for performance that reframes our sensation of the outside world and connects us to our physicality through exhibition experiences. My sculptures resist easy categorization in terms of their origin and function, yet evoke familiarity and engagement while employing rudimentary methods that highlight the elemental qualities of the materials I use. While my materials and methods of construction do not conceal anything, their enigmatic quality challenges quick interpretation, inviting viewers to delve deeper into the work. In my performances I incorporate broken, jumbled, yet poetic language, reminiscent of immigrants’ speech patterns, accompanied by functional movements that interact with the objects. Through interplay of fragmented words and movements, I depict scenes that avoid straightforward representation, offering a means of re-living a moment in the present and inviting viewers to bear witness. These performances explore unanswerable questions, opening up new possibilities for understanding the complex experiences of migration and displacement. Specifically, in recent years, my practice has focused on moments of cultural collision, questions of belonging, and the construction of identity. Works such as Falls (2022), commissioned by the Leeum Museum of Art in Seoul, flour hat (floor) (2021), and Hyeree Christina Mary (2019) address the U.S.-Korea relations, as reflected in personal family history. Additionally, Seseri (2018) challenges the historical relationship between Korea and Japan and its presence in interpersonal relations. Through my artistic practice, I aim to create a rich and nuanced dialogue, revealing the intricacies of personal and collective experiences that have historically remained invisible. By delving into these themes and constructing unseen narratives, I seek to reimagine and further understand the complexities of our shared world.