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Nina Jun Joins I CAN WE CAN

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Nina Jun

I was thrilled when I was first introduced to the I CAN community engagement project because it involves survivors of domestic violence who share their experiences, statements and stories. When I began to learn about the A Window Between Worlds art workshop the project is based on, "Funeral of I Can’ts," I immediately thought about the dome or mound structure that reoccurs in my personal artwork. I see the dome shape as having contradictory meanings: death and rebirth, the inevitable condition of life.

The dome, or half sphere, is a common three-dimensional form we see in our lives. To me, the shape is special, as it is the form of a grave mound in Korean traditional culture. Also this round and protruding form is the pregnant belly of expectant mothers.

For the exhibition held at SPARC in March & April of 2012, I installed two mounds: one for I CAN and one for "I Can’t." The colorful I CAN had a monitor inserted on top of the mound with moving images of paper boats floating in water. The boats represented peace, hope and embarking upon a new journey. The "I Can’t" mound was white and covered with shredded "I Can’t" statements from 700 survivors of domestic violence and community members. In my native country of Korea, the color white means death. The intent of the "I Can’t" mound was to burn painful memories and feelings of weakness in order to move past the trauma of abuse, leaving nothing but ashes behind.

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Nina Jun's installation at SPARC with the colorful I CAN mound, and the white mound of burning "I Can't" shreds

When a person falls into the deepest darkness, it can be difficult to build strength to find hope and light for their lives. I CAN: Requiem for I Can’t is about the journey from the darkness into the light. I did not meet everyone who wrote the statements in this project, but I was inspired as I read their personal I CAN and "I Can’t" thoughts. As a result, I tried to incorporate the text written by the participants as much as possible in the video and sculptural elements of the art piece.

It was an honor to work with artist Barbara T. Smith, whose energy and innovative thinking helped to guide the project. Preparing for the public presentation was a challenge for me, but I am glad that I CAN take an active part in the mission of A Window Between Worlds and use art to help bring an end to domestic violence.

Join us to help end domestic and sexual violence. Together WE CAN!


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