Wendy Park

Wendy Park (b. 1986, Los Angeles, California, lives and works in Los Angeles, California) received a BFA from Otis College of Art & Design. Park has held solo exhibitions at the Kantor Gallery, Los Angeles, CA, Bill Brady Gallery, Miami, FL, and Various Small Fires, Los Angeles, CA. She has also exhibited her work at Frieze Los Angeles; Half Gallery, Los Angeles; PM/AM London, UK; K11 Musea, Sow and Tailor, Hong Kong; and more.
March 27, 2023
Tell us about your practice.
I’m an artist creating work about my upbringing as a Korean American in LA. I share stories about the beauty and hardships of growing up with immigrant parents who came to America for better opportunities. The majority of my work has been acrylic on canvas paintings of what I like to call, “still memories” which to me is a play on “still life”. Still, memories reflect the way I remember my childhood and the objects that I was surrounded by that have sculpted the person I am today.
Subjects of my work are usually humble working-class objects along with Asian items and influences. You might recognize my work if you see apples the way Asian moms like to cut apples on a paper plate with shrimp chips on the side. Or a bottle of Tiger Balm sitting next to a cash register with neon orange signage. And lots of alcohol and noodles on boxes/crates.
You’ve spoken about how your paintings are rooted in your own memories growing up, particularly those that recall your time with your parents. How do you approach pulling details from the past? Do you look at family archives?
Looking at photo albums, having conversations, and sharing stories with family usually will remind me of a memory that I might have forgotten. But a lot of my work is from personal recollection. More recently my senses have been sparking memories of the past. Sounds of people clapping remind me of when my dad used to watch Korean soccer at 2 am in the morning. He would clap so loud and yell, “GOAL!” when we were all asleep. The smell of cigarettes, and charcoal reminds me of the backyard barbecues we had. These senses remind me of the past and I allow myself to sit with the memories connected.
Are there particular moments/memories that you are thinking about these days in the studio?
I’ve been trying to focus on the happier times I’ve had with my family. With the loss, you are often consumed by sadness and negative energy so you need to put in the effort to stay positive. Recently I have been thinking about the picnics my family used to take. They were few and far between but that was a way we were able to break the routine without spending so much money on a vacation. I remember we had Korean ribs, and kimchi, we played games, and the kids even got prizes. A lot of these things are reflected in my current work, and I am excited to share them.
In your show at VSF, Off the Clock, you went off the canvas in creating an AR work. Is this something you are thinking to do more of? Are there any new mediums you’d be interested in exploring?
Yes, I will definitely work with AR again. Accessibility to my work is important, and I found that with my last show at Various Small Fires, the AR piece allowed a communal experience. I loved that it brought strangers together to share an interactive experience and spark conversations. As far as new mediums, I would like to work with something sculptural, possibly woodwork. Anything that will accurately evoke the emotion I am trying to convey.
What has been inspiring you lately?
I am obsessed with the new Netflix series, “Beef”. This show is revolutionary and depicts the first-generation Asian American experience of LA so well. I felt like I already knew the characters so well that it was sometimes painful to watch their struggles. I feel so proud of the Asian community. There’s a shift in the interest in Asian contribution to the arts. The stories and perspectives we have are finally being recognized for the different dimensions vs the flat and stereotypical characters shown by western ideals in the past. It’s powerful to see people who look like me succeeding at the highest level.
What’s next for you?
I have an upcoming solo show at the Independent Art Fair with VSF in NY in May, and I am looking forward to conceptualizing ideas for something exciting happening next year in Asia.

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