Found in Translation

Explorations by 8 contemporary artists on their experiences with immigration to the Kansas City region from places across Asia.

We often hear of the risks of meaning getting lost in translation. But visual artists are skilled at translating complex ideas and questions into something tangible. Found in Translation: Explorations by 8 Contemporary Artists reveals this process of change and transformation.

As you scroll through, hear directly from each of these artists and learn how their art was informed by their individual experiences with immigration to the Kansas City region from places across Asia.

Continuity (2022) by Hong C ZhangThe Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

“My work combines traditional Chinese fine style (gongbi) ink painting technique with a new Italian fabric called Alcantara, which provides me with flexibility to create layers of detail on a large scale."

"I continue to mix figurative and landscape composition and explore my Chinese identity and family tradition that I have passed on to my daughter, like a tree with deep roots growing on adopted land in the American Midwest."

Self-Portrait Diary: one-a-day drawings for 10 years (2003, 2005-2013) by Noriko EbersoleThe Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

"One day, I started sketching self-portraits. After a while, I mounted them on the wall. To my surprise, I saw an intriguing pattern - a subtle rhythm of shades and colors. I was fascinated and curious. If I added more, would the rhythm become stronger?"

Self-Portrait Diary: one-a-day drawings for 10 years (2003, 2005-2013) by Noriko EbersoleThe Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

"Fifty initial sketches turned into 100. Then 365. 

This work is the result of 10 years."

Tempora Incognita (2022) by Shreepad Narayan JoglekarThe Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

“Images in this series are visualizations of subjects that cannot be represented photographically, because they do not exist either in the physical space or in the present time."

"Some visualizations are made using photographic references converted into three dimensional models. Others are created by recording periods of time with sound and visualizing them as landscapes."

Buttons For Eyes (2022) by Priya Suresh KambliThe Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

“Buttons for Eyes is constructed through experimentation with my personal archive of photographs and artifacts brought with me from India, and it foregrounds a personal narrative."

"The title refers to my mother’s playful yet nuanced question, ‘Do you have eyes or buttons for eyes?’"

Buttons For Eyes (2022) by Priya Suresh KambliThe Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

"My mother’s concern was perhaps not simply about my inability to see an object in plain sight but our inability to navigate the world. With the benefit of hindsight, I have realized how those concerns have political dimensions that are now embedded within the series as well.” 

Returning (2022) by Kathy M LiaoThe Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

“‘I'm Home / 我回來了 / ただいま’: an announcement of one’s return, a declaration of one’s presence in the house.  

In Japanese culture, ただいま/tadaima ‘I've returned’ is often met with the phrase おかえりなさい/okairinasai ‘welcome back.’"

"The installation documents the fluid state between experience, memory, and place. Like well-worn film negatives, I revisit patterns, snapshots, and familiar gestures, until they begin to morph, overlap, and degrade.” 

Delivered and Discarded (2022) by Yoonmi NamThe Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

“Like many people during the COVID-19 lockdown, my husband and I stayed in our small house and relied on deliveries to sustain us."

"I painted Sumi ink on Tyvek sheets, then sprayed the surface with an alcohol-based sanitizer, making visible the act of disinfecting."

"Using the flattened delivery boxes as templates, I made various cut-out shapes that I layered and stacked as if they are in some state of being processed.” 

Red and Blue Consequences (2021) by Hye Young ShinThe Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

"I have always been fascinated by the relationship between cast paper and drawn or printed images. 

I see paper as an embodiment of culture, as various papers exist in different civilizations that can hold and interconnect experiences and memories like human skin.”

"The method I use for the base paper cast with antique frames is one of Korea’s traditional papercraft techniques called Jiho-gibeop, which is similar to papier-mâché." 

From the Roots...That's Rarely Seen (2022) by Heinrich TohThe Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

"Images and objects float within dreamlike nostalgia, inviting us to ponder the space between past and future. These fragments reconnect to home and ritual, while exploring how current environments shape us."

"What would these images look like transcending the binaries of East and West, old and new?

Does the connection between origin and identity depend on where one is born? Or where one is going?"

Found In Translation artists group (2022) by The Nelson-Atkins Museum of ArtThe Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

Through this project, each of these local artists explored personal questions about place, memory, home, relationships, and identity through their art.

Credits: Story

Found in Translation is the second exhibition in the Nelson-Atkins' initiative KC Art Now, which celebrates local artists. 

Many thanks to the participating artists for sharing their work for this story:
Hong Chun Zhang
Noriko Ebersole
Shree Joglekar
Priya Kambli
Kathy Liao
Yoonmi Nam
Hyeyoung Shin
Heinrich Toh

All images and text courtesy of the artists.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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