There is no place like home

There is no place like home – Visualizing heritage, race and class through the personal story of international adoption is the working title of my PhD project in
Visual Communication towards illustration at Konstfack, Stockholm.

My research is about formulating intersectional illustration methods, showcasing the specificities of sequential storytelling through visual communication,
by making a graphic novel as my thesis.

I am interested in what layers of visual languages the graphic novel can communicate in, and what values are found in methods and aesthetic registers when put in art and illustration history context. By using the graphic novel as a format and genre, I would like to stress the openness, versatility, importance and capacity of illustration, but also to link to the historical hierarchies between writing and illustration, where illustration was labelled ornamental, superfluous and juvenile. I am interested in approaching the graphic novel from the maker’s practical point of view and through analysis of style, aesthetics and craft rather than (as it is common) from the academic field of literature.

Through storytelling, I am finding ways to work artistically and sensitively using the personal voice as a Korean adoptee and the experience of betweenship as a narrative compass. The project aims to have a strong focus on the craft and readability and being aware of position and context by insisting on pedagogical, accessible and open communication.

A couple of concrete examples of values and decisions I work with
when I make the images are:

To work with color, details and ornaments and to work outside grid and bubble systems in order to utilise formats less conditioned by Western
and modernist aesthetic value systems.
To defy the idea of one coherent style, and instead mix expressions,
styles and systems according to what needs to be narrated.
To let the image carry the weight of the storytelling, letting the written text be a support to the image, and the image not be dependent on the text.
To make key illustrations that showcase a high level of detail,
craft and time-consuming qualities.
To work with image registers that are kin to the romantic, the domestic, the coded feminine, folk, workers and country-side.
To carefully place and be aware of symbolism and image references.
To reference a wide spectrum and diverse types of sources. Academic, commercial, pop-cultural etc.

Principal supervisor: Professor Sara Teleman
Assistant supervisor: Professor Jyoti Mistry
Admitted to:  Konstfack
Project period: 2020-2024

You can find a link to my profile at Konstfack here.