A digital archive of Asian/Asian American contemporary art history

Oh, Soon-Hwa

Other Names: 오순화


"I photograph young Korean women aged in their late 20s and early 30s in their own environment. When I photograph, I looked for the cultural and personal characteristics in their environment, e.g. the shiny wallpaper in their rooms, the four-poster bed frame, the models' choices of pink colored curtains, and symbolic objects standing for Halloween and Christianity, then I carefully eliminate unnecessary objects within the frame so that viewers can focus on only things I want to include in the pictures.

My photographs may be seen as dealing with the issues of cultural and female identity. The majority of the women I photograph came to the U.S. from Korea in their 20s with some hope to become successful artists, scholars, and to find themselves, they could otherwise not have accomplished because of the culturally embedded values applied to Korean women. Young women are pushed toward marriage and after then the cultural environment is [supportive] of women who pursue their careers. There also seems to be a tendency to treat single women with less respect because they are out of the norm compared to other people their age. Being different from others seems to be already a difficult task. Personally, these photographs reveal my own story growing up in Korea and being exposed to a foreign culture, the American culture.

I observe and attempt to document each person without emphasizing the stereotypes of women and Asian. To an extent I probably could not separate my own perception from the experience of other Korean women, however, my intention is to reveal the individual's persona, as it exists in the world. Hence, the models are randomly selected without screening them by their personality or appearance. I do think that there are gender and cultural differences in people, and my idea behind this project was to illustrate the differences giving them considerable [thought] and to raise viewers' consciousness about how individuals cope differently with similar experience."

Soon-hwa Oh, Artist Statement on "Darling", [2003]

Gallery of Selected Works