Date of Award
Master of Fine Arts (MFA)
Jewelry and Metalsmithing
‘I’ is the most difficult entity for me to identify. The meaning of self, as I get closer, slips away. Sometimes I feel akin to one identity, and at other times, another. None of them feels completely accurate. In these moments of uncertainty, I remind myself that possessing multiple selves is acceptable and that in the spaces between them resides the power and possibility for eventually finding and defining my true self. My parents gave me four different names at different times due to our religion, Buddhism. At present, my name is Esme here in the United States, while in South Korea I am Hyungyo. Before I was Esme, I was Monica, and before I was Hyungyo, I was Dahee. According to Buddhist beliefs, the names Monica and Dahee activated an energy opposite from that which I most needed according to my birth date, location, and time, and thus they were changed.
My thesis work explores how I have constructed my present identity, artistically and otherwise, through the mapping of a self identity-chain and by reflecting upon how I have observed and defined myself as a collective of four identities. The interaction among these four names, each with their subsequent shifting emotions, is the foundation of my creative aesthetic. For the moment, I have decided to remain untitled despite possessing four titles, none of which I consider as completely mine at this time of transition. I have chosen to forgo these titles in order to consider each in turn and isolate their individual characters. This process has allowed me to engage in a dialogue and to generate the basis for my emerging aesthetic: that of being an untitled self as an artist. Inhabiting a space that is neither inside nor outside Esme, Monica, Hyungyo, and Dahee, I have truly begun to see myself as an amalgam of all four. By stepping outside of this construct and observing myself as if I were another person, I realized that a matrix of all four—with the porosity among them and the continuous shifting and flowing one into another—has the strongest voice at different times. Unsure of how this realization would influence my work itself, I felt sure that the continued investigation of my identity would reveal the meaning of those four names and illuminate how I might inhabit them all, or instead lead me to a state of remaining untitled.
Choi, Esme, "Untitled" (2015). Masters Theses. 18.
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