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Anna Youngyeun was born in Hawaii and raised in Missouri in a Thai-Chinese household. She graduated with an MFA in Visual Arts: Textiles from the University of Kansas in Lawrence in 2014, and a BFA in Studio Art: Fibers from Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri, in 2011. In 2014-2015, Anna served as Visiting Assistant Professor in Fibers and Printmaking at Berea College in Berea, Kentucky, and in summer of 2016, she taught Cultural Anthropology and Installation/Performance Art with the Kentucky Governor’s Scholars Program. Coming from a multi-cultural family of seamstresses, tailors, and upholsterers, she creates work in fibers that allows her to connect with her familial history and explore her intersecting identities.
I am interested in exploring simultaneous feelings of belonging yet not belonging—sentiments that are seemingly contrary, but often occur in tandem, such as: comfort and awkwardness; sympathy and disgust; and closeness and alienation. My soft sculptures simultaneously portray whimsy, humor, awkwardness, and discomfort. Within those contradictions are opportunities to find humor in hardship and empathy in embarrassment.
Tactility is paramount in my work because it is both intimate yet compromising. I create sensory experiences that allude to sensations such as weightiness, pressure, and simple gestures like hugging and hiding. My most recent body of work focuses on exaggerating simple gestures that may hold contrary sentiments. For example, a wave may be a friendly gesture or a dismissal, and raising one’s hand may be a sign of confidence or a source of anxiety.
Dyeing, screen printing, sculpting, and sewing provide me with introspective space to feel connected to my heritage while exploring something new. Turning these objects into interactive works allows me to share these personal navigations, and most importantly, to invite viewers to consider their own sense of place and self.