Week 14 – Artist Interview: Yireh Elaine Kwak

Because this is one of the last artist interviews of the year, I’ll be completely honest: I wasn’t planning on putting any effort into the interviews anymore. But artist Yireh Elaine Kwak totally changed that. I walked through the Gastov West gallery and saw her oil painting on the wall. After listening to the questions being asked, I learned that the title of her work is “Home.” She explained that the painting was not called “House” because then that would have a different meaning. A house can refer to a building, but her painting did not have a building in it. It took her a month and a half to paint it.

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The painting was supposed to represent one of her houses that she lived in at Fullerton. I was so surprised when she said this because I didn’t know the city could have such a beautiful landscape; I thought Fullerton was full of city life, but I was clearly wrong. The painting had stairs on the bottom right of the canvas, which looked like it lead to a house. Barbed wires were put towards the left side to separate the house from the wilderness. In the background, there were mountains and what looked like to be a valley. One of my favorite parts of the painting was her use of oil pastel colors. The way all the different colors were put together worked perfectly. She explained that this picture represented one of the houses she had lived in in the pasts It was one of her favorite places because of how she could just go to the backyard to admire the beautiful nature. It’s different from the houses that Kwak has lived in because nothing could compare to the view this house had.

A couple things to know about Kwak is that she loves to draw and paint. It’s also her senior year at CSULB. She loves to paint nature and express her admiration towards the beauty of it. After her senior year, she plans on taking a break from school to figure things out for herself. She wasn’t too sure on where she wanted to go for graduate school, but she wanted to try somewhere different like UC Berkeley. She wants to change things up a bit and moved to a different place far away from Long Beach. I told her that NorCal would be a great idea if she wanted to move somewhere full of nature. I told her about my trip to Davis and San Francisco and how life changing it was. It was definitely different from the usual city life, which is why I loved it even more. I’m excited to see what Kwak has planned for the near future and I wish her luck in everything she does!


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