A piece of art is no accident. A piece of art is an artist’s mark on the world, on the
space in which we live. In fact, a piece of art is an expression of the artist’s history and experi-
ences, which determines his or her aesthetic. As an artist and a designer, I must always be in
dialog with my influences, and I must also recognize that each moment that I live within my
surroundings alters my life. I must emphasize how we find our identities through one another
and how we influence one another to develop a larger identity as a living human beings and
even as artists. My history and my people determine my artistic aesthetic; without that history,
I no longer belong here in the current space as ‘I.’ Today we live in the present, but we all
have a history of our own. My history resides in whom I spent and spend my everyday mo-
ments with: you. I use you in dialog with myself to create a moment for my artistic theory and
aesthetics to arise.
Shadow was born from the light,
Negativity is known when the opposite is understood: the positive,
Sadness becomes present when happiness is present side by side,
I become clear when you are identified,
You are the reflection of I.
I am working on the topic of you,
In order to understand how I became I,
So that I can help others understand the relationship between ‘I and you’ and ‘I am you.’
In other words, us.
Abstract . . .
My artistic theories have developed around my own curiosity and my religious
background, which then instigates my body of work; a curiosity about things that reside in
my memories and experiences; and my personal religious background, which has taught me
different qualities of life. I believe that one of the most amazing experiences and moments
that we have is through/with each other: the power of relationships. Adopting information
through our relationships illuminates our daily life experiences. I can’t observe and adopt
everything that is revolving around me without deeper studies of the relationship I hold with
Intro . . .
“Our borders do not signify boundaries between persons. We are all the same person.
There is only one person, and that person is all of us. We are each a separately existing person
numerically identical to ourselves over time, bounded in time and space” (Kolak, 1).
Kolak states that no such thing as self exists in the world. I agree that there is no such
things as self. It is just you, the reflection of I, and I, the reflection of you: in other words, us.
I have recognized that others are as important as I am because without others I
would not fully understand myself. The relationships I form, and society as a whole, create the
meaning in my work. In other words, my artistic satisfaction has revolved around recognizing
what truly influences my work, which includes observing my surroundings with a finely honed
perceptive capacity. I am me because I have you and others and objects of all kinds around
me. We tend to look at ourselves only, but in reality, we can’t really see ourselves, can we? It’s
the reflection of ourselves that we see, not the real. We find our definition of ‘self’ from the
reflection we receive from our surroundings.
I am only ‘I’ when I am in my surroundings:
You, the reflection of I, the second meaning of I.
You, the reflection of I, must be defined to help define myself. My work’s very first
step stands as a collaborative work, with my own history and influences generated by the
individuals surrounding me. I asked for my influencers to be generously involved in the pro-
cess. By incorporating the influencers’ thoughts into my work, collaborating with my history/
influences, my history and my people whom I consider as influencers are the reflection of my
artistic theory and aesthetics.
Subsequently, my work evolved from pieces that have been created as a collabora-
tion of my history and myself. I have found the details of my own aesthetics and my artistic
color from those collaboration pieces. My own aesthetics and color, which are reflected in
those pieces, will be highlighted and recreated into another series of work. Optimistically,
this evolution from the first series of work will provide me with an opportunity to observe
something fresh about myself as an artist: I am searching for the third meaning of ‘I.’
Others are as important as I am because without others, I wouldn’t understand any-
thing about myself. When others are identified, myself and the color of myself become more
The Plus (+)
We are programmed to receive the identification of I since everything else we see
and observe every day is everything but I. My history is the memories that I have kept of
my surroundings. You are the container for my memories and a container for me to express
myself and put my thoughts into. In other words, you are the reflection of I. My history is the
reflection of you; you are the reflection of me. My history resides in you and I: us.
The plus (+) is the moment where I can live together with the highlighted individual
of my life. It is the moment where we can share each other’s reflections, boundaries, and
thoughts and become another being: the third identity can be created from the two.
I = YOU
I, myself, and those people whom I consider as my reflections, come from different
places as individuals. We hold our own identities, which we have built as separate lives. When
two individuals come together to face each other, that is when we start to share our identities
and reflect off of one another—the moment for me to reflect and become part of you and you
to become part of me. As I further investigate the intimate relationship that I share with my
surroundings, recognition of the need for a space for each relationship to face one another
comes across—a space I as an artist create for the relationship to occur or to reflect.
I am a daughter of an architect (my father) who loves architectural forms.
I am a trained metalsmith who fell in love with metal.
I am a bench jeweler who loves making brooches.
Architecture is a structure that was designed for construction. I see architecture as
patterns, designs, and boundaries. I see jewelry as small architectural forms built on the hu-
man body. If my aesthetics of a pattern/design is an architectural form, what is yours?
Metal is a material that is cold but also warm. I fell in love with metal for its mysteri-
ousness and its preciousness. I am a trained metalsmith who knows how to work with metal,
but in the end, I really never understood metal itself. The beauty of metal resides in its mate-
rial personality. If my material is a metal, what is yours?
A brooch is a jewelry object that is placed close to your heart. I see brooches as heart
ornaments. I am a maker of brooches, and when my work is placed close to my heart, I feel
the warmness of my hands. I adorn hearts with my work. If my format of jewelry is a brooch,
what is yours?
What is the reflection of I in you?
“The two remain separate, yet they are one;
they are one, yet always remain separate.”
The collaboration works I created in dialog with other individuals are single pieces
that speak for two. Every piece holds two reflections of people: the reflection of I with the
reflection of the participating individual:
I have also recognized how my built artistic aesthetic as an artist shifted and rear-
ranged itself during the process. Depending on the participating individual’s reflection, my
aesthetic was rebuilding its identity. If I was to adjust myself according to the people with
whom I live, my aesthetic as an artist was adjusting to newly adopted influences. Different
individuals have provided different influences. I have been traveling through my people’s
reflections and re-identified my aesthetic each moment. Art is the reflection of the artist’s life
You became my art.
I, Esme Choi, acknowledge those who have participated for the studies.
Special thanks to
Yoon Kyung Lee
Jung Gun Choi
Jace Jiho Baek
Wei Lah Poh
Lie Sang Bong