If There Were Tigers

If There Were Tigers

As a Korean adoptee in an American family, Weiser examines the ways in which culture is assumed and constructed in her newest body of work. Using herself and her life experiences as her subjects, she creates personal narratives in her intricate hand embroidered works that reference the arrangements of Korean folk paintings and Korean Hanbok fabrics. Weiser traveled to Korea to purchase traditional fabrics that are used as the backdrops for the embroidered sceneries and framed within the standard wooden hoops. She combines and replaces traditional imagery such as tigers, birds and fauna with her personal possessions, family, pets and habitat to create a space inclusive of real and imagined identity. The larger works hang to the floor like fabric banners crowned with elaborate silk flower arrangements and tassels. In the piece, “Kkachi” (An LA Bird), a beautiful magpie gracefully flies over a field of California succulents combining the natural elements of Weiser’s home in Santa Monica with the native bird from her Korean heritage.

One of the other large embroideries with the namesake from the show depicts a tiger with an asymmetrical face crouching in front of abstracted rice paddy fields as a red crested crane flies overhead. The imagery portrays evidence of the myth that Siberian tigers, long in extinction as a result of poaching, have resurfaced in the uninhabited landscape of the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). The imagery in another series entitled We Are the Champions mimics traditional Korean table-scape paintings while utilizing the personal interests of Weiser, her parents and her sister who is also a Korean adoptee. For her piece, Weiser included a stack of books, a ceramic vessel, bananas and a helicopter. Throughout her life Weiser imagined belonging to a culture that was familiar in both appearance and practice and she fantasized about her Korean biological family who would visit her in a yellow helicopter.

Accompanying these embroideries is a series of photographic self-portraits entitled Enacting My Koreanness, Self-portrait performance. For each image, Weiser paints her face a different version of a traditional Korean mask sold as tourist souvenirs in Korea. The flawed imitation of each image becomes a metaphor for the unfamiliarity with being culturally Korean. Based on a memory from her childhood, the Korean dance crowns worn on Weiser’s head speak to cultural disruption and racial authenticity while acknowledging the duality and inconsistencies of her identity. The animated faces and headdress lead to her Americanized body that is covered with tattoos and piercings, reinforcing these contradictions. Overall, Weiser questions the ways in which her identity as an American, an Asian American and a Korean adoptee can create a perceived culture by altering temporality and a traditional Korean narrative.

If There Were Tigers

  • Walter Maciel Gallery's Exhibitions 21

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