Inner portrait artist Cho Sun-young portrays self-reflexivity in art
Inner portrait artist Cho Sun-young portrays self-reflexivity in art
  • Ewha Voice
  • 승인 2014.11.28 17:33
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Inner portrait artist Cho Sun-young ('09, Television & Film) is in her office known as the "Chewing Room." Photo by Ewha Voice.
Human beings have always had the desire to achieve perfection. People continuously strive to move forward and progress to become a better person especially in the modern days where everyone is busy. Nevertheless, what people often forget about is that there is never a state of life that can be defined as either perfection or imperfection.
In fact, it is simply the small moments of the past that accumulate to constitute the person. Young artist Cho Sun-young (’09, Television & Film) who acknowledges such lesson regarding life, fervently pursues to spend the moments of her life as a creator.
Cho is widely known for her impromptu inner portraits. A typical painter’s job is to capture the outer appearance of the subject, but Cho’s focus is on revealing the inner nature through portraiture. When someone presents a word that describes himself or herself the best, Cho converses with them to fully understand his or her inner characteristics. Then, she depicts the inner qualities into condensed drawing and a short poetry.
“I want my portraits to become small moments or instances for people to look back at themselves,” Cho said. “Everyone is so busy nowadays that there is no time to retrospect. No one enjoys the past moments nor thanks the people around us. I want my work to become the points where such retrospect can happen and full people’s lives with color.”
Although she has great ambition in the kind of art, it was not until in her junior year in university that she earnestly thought of doing something creative.
“While others were studying TOEIC, an English language test which is perceived as a mandatory requirement when preparing for employment in Korean society, I was pondering on what I liked and what I was going to do afterwards,” Cho said. “Then, suddenly, my dream as a writer when I was young came across my mind. Becoming an author is tough; yet, accomplishing my dream later would be even more difficult as I would have to give up more. If I wanted to become an author, it was now or never. ”
Her debut as an author was the publication of a picture book in her senior year in 2009 called Big Holes in My Heart, Bigger than the Body.
At first, it was merely a bundle of scribbling she drew as a present to her professors and friends. However, as her most respected professor in Korean literature and language studies suggested an idea of publishing, she started re-drawing the pictures and made her first kick-off as an author who both drew and wrote.
“After publishing, I deeply pondered on my identity as an author and artist,” Cho said. “I do not think there is a single set path. I am neither a novelist nor an illustrator; but simply an artist.”
As Cho favored working with people, she wanted to do something that involved communication and interaction with others rather than simply drawing picture alone. As a result, she started doing impromptu inner portrait work that requires communication.
“Of course, I cannot fully embody one’s inner side in my work,” Cho said. “I only have 10 to 15 minutes to converse and besides, I have not formally learned psycho analysis. Nonetheless, I believe that the important part is that my work provides a chance for people to look back on themselves at least for that instant of selecting a word to describe him or herself for the inner portrait. Moreover, as they take the portrait back home, they are able to think once again about themselves.”
Although it is not Cho’s intention, there are people who state that they have undergone a therapeutic process through inner portraits. However, it is not only the people receiving inner portraits that have a deep insight into their own lives. It also applies to the artist; for instance, Cho’s meeting with a mature 12 years old girl who suggested “incompletion” as the word that best expressed herself was an unforgettable experience.
“I was astonished by the child’s depth in thought,” Cho said. “She said that she was neither an incomplete being nor a perfect being. I also believe that I am not a complete being and will do whatever I can do as an artist and creator. ”
Cho concluded with the statement that college years are a great time to look back on oneself and determine a future path.
“Whatever you are doing right now, you are doing it right,” Cho said. “Take a moment to remember what you wanted to do when you were young.  Spend as much time as possible in college to explore everything you are interested in.”

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