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Joanne Nam: Into the Woods

INTERVIEW WITH JOANNE NAM
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Pasadena, California ~

joanne nam Your Silence – Oil on wood panel 10″x20″

Your Silence | Oil on wood panel | 10″x20″ | Joanna Nam




joanne nam

Joanne Nam



Joanne Nam

Joanne Nam

Deanna Elaine Piowaty: Joanne, looking at your paintings, one senses a deep inner journey. That through their minds, imaginations, memories, your subjects are transporting themselves to a sacred place. Can you tell me about this?
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Joanne Nam: I was born in Korea in 1987, in Seoul, and was raised in a small rural area. [quote]My house was located in the middle of a forest. My dad loves wild nature, and he thought it was important to let his children know the beauty of wilderness. The subject matters of my paintings are from those memories. [/quote]
But I did not want to simply illustrate what happened there. I was mainly focusing on the impressions of memories. Living on a mountain as a kid was not easy. I was a depressed child, and I had to go through a lot of painful situations. However, now I understand I was blessed to have stepped in the mud, looked at wild animals, and smelled rain in woods. It became a spiritual place in my head, and I wanted to share that feeling with my audience.
Joanne Nam

Joanne Nam

Deanna Elaine Piowaty: In your paintings, environment and color pallet play as strong a role as your human subjects. It is as if you have created a place of serenity as much for us as for whom you have peopling your artworks. Was this your intent? When you begin a piece, are you painting for a specific audience or for yourself?
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Joanne Nam: I paint for both. Although I make art that I like, I also need an audience who would appreciate it too. I know that it is impossible to satisfy everyone. So my first goal is pleasing my own eyes. I like beautiful, mysterious, moody, and haunted things. When I like it, I invite others and listen to their judgement. Sometimes I hear harsh but good comments, especially when I put my paintings online, people can be very honest. It is really painful but also helpful. So I readily accept comments.
joanne nam

Joanne Nam

Deanna Elaine Piowaty: How old were you when you immigrated from Korea to the United States? What remains your strongest memory about that time of endings and new beginnings?
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Joanne Nam: I was a teenager and like any ordinary teenager, I hated everything around me. When I left my old house, I didn’t know how lucky I was to have experienced natural wilderness for such a long time. I remember that I was happy to “escape” from that inconvenient, depressing place. When I began a new life in America, I was very excited to see the new cultures that were completely different from where I used to live. However, the things I noticed the most were the mountains. I could not help but start to examine how trees in America looked different from trees in Korea, and how they create different shapes of forests.
Joanne Nam

Joanne Nam

Deanna Elaine Piowaty: What are your most enduring memories of your homeland? What do you most miss?
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Joanne Nam: My dad loves deer. Some people even thought our place was a deer farm. One cold winter day, I remember that I woke up early and saw a dark but also light blue sky through my window. [quote]When I was looking at the sky in my bed thinking how cold that day would be, I heard deer crying. It was not a frightened cry. It sounded like they were singing a sad song. I do not know why, but I always thought their voice had a mysterious and haunting emotion.[/quote]
joanne-nam-16

Joanne Nam

Joanne Nam: I also miss shooting stars.[quote] It was middle of a winter night, I was sleeping and heard something flying through the sky. It sounded like a bunch of miniature missiles flying toward to my house. So I woke up and opened the window and saw millions of shooting stars falling from the sky. At first I thought they were fireworks. Those stars were so bright so I could not even open my eyes. They appeared at some random point in the sky and disappeared quickly like dust flames from a wood fire. No artist in the world could create that. It was the most amazing visual image I have ever seen in my life, and I know I will not be able to see it again. That is why I miss it so much. [/quote]
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Deanna Elaine Piowaty: Do favorite folk tales from your childhood ever find their way into your paintings?
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Joanne Nam: My parents were very busy people, so they usually were not at home. When I got out of school I went to after school programs and would not get home until it was dark. My mom usually picked me up at the gate and drove me home, but, one day, my mom never came. I had no choice but to walk through the mountain alone. [quote]There was no light, so I had to rely on my instinct. All the sounds of my own footsteps and animals in the dark made me scared. To make matters worse, my dad’s hobby was sculpting rocks, and he randomly decorated the road with them. They looked like ghosts or strangers in dark. I was eight years old. Although the  forest looked beautiful in the darkness, that night was the night that I experienced the most fear and isolation as a child. I applied that emotion into my painting called “White Forest.”[/quote]

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Joanne_Nam

Joanne Nam

Deanna Elaine Piowaty: Do you notice a distinct difference between the work of contemporary artists in Korean versus artists in the States? Are there themes that are distinctly Korean? Or do you notice more similarities than differences?
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Joanne Nam: They were very different until a few years ago, but now I find more similarities. Nowadays, Korean culture is very open to accept other cultures from outside. I used to think Korean art was very quiet, but now it has become very vivid and energetic. I love both cultures.
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Deanna Elaine Piowaty: Who are the painters who most inspire you? What is it about their style that speaks to you?
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Joanne Nam: These days, I’m into old painters such as, Sando Botticelli and Frederic Leighton. I love studying their compositions and color palettes.

 

Portrait of a Young Woman - Sandro Botticelli

Portrait of a Young Woman | Sandro Botticelli

 

Flaming June Frederic Leighton

Flaming June | Frederic Leighton

Deanna Elaine Piowaty: How important is it for art to be beautiful?
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Joanne Nam: I think art should be a pleasure. Everyone has different criteria of beauty. My eyes are definitely drawn to certain things. Perception of beauty is all dependent on the individual.
Joanne Nam

Joanne Nam

Deanna Elaine Piowaty: What is your favorite piece of your own?
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Joanne Nam: White Forest is my favorite. I think it was the most successful piece that brings out the feeling that I intended to express to audience.
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Deanna Elaine Piowaty: Where would you like to take your artwork next?
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Joanne Nam: I have started to explore the abstract world. I want to combine abstract images to my rendered figures and see what happen. I also began the project “Night Out” which is based on the impression that I receive these days.
Night Out 6: Loner | Joanne Nam

Night Out 6: Loner | Joanne Nam

Further Notes

 

To see more of Joanne Nam’s work, visit her tumblr.

 

Combustus Managing Editor | + posts

My dream: to create a unique vehicle for artists and visionaries from all genres and all over the globe to inspire and learn from one another.

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