On Display

Nikki Whang

Let me start by being honest:

I don’t know who I am, but I know exactly who I think I am, I think.

You know everything about me.

You know nothing about me.

What is visible is right.

Can you see me?

I can see you.

Artist's statement: 

Much of my work stems from an exploration of my identity, both as a woman and as an Asian-American. What does it mean to be—a woman of color, a Korean-American, 2nd and 1/2 generation, a daughter of immigrants, a student at Duke—and how have my experiences shaped who I am and how I interact with others?

These explorations, executed originally in the form of thought drawings, sketches, and many late-night conversations, culminated to form the final works in this exhibit. When playing around and rendering images ceased to satisfy, I began exploring how I could perform and engender conversation about these issues with a broader audience. Seven Days on Display, Tea (or the traditional happy family’s dinner table), and Truth, Lies, and Castles (I, You, We) all invite the viewer to play an integral role in the art. Not only do the works bring to light the issues that I grapple with on a daily basis, but also it allows us to find points of connections.

The installation, consisting of Tea and Truth, Lies, and Castles, weaves together bits and pieces of my own narrative with the narratives of others, further examining how certain stories stick with us to form the castles of our beliefs. As various phrases, quotes, and truisms pass by, the viewer must make quick judgments as to what is true, what is false, and what is an accurate portrayal of memory. The words are further obscured by the shadows from the hanging objects, playing with the idea of stories getting lost in translation. The chandelier motif and the homely feel of the installation portray the façade of a perfect life, while in reality the stories and hanging objects bring the supposed truth to the table.