In 2007 I began research of the issue of Comfort Women and spent time with these victims who were forced into sexual slavery during WWII. I have traveled both in Korea and the United States with these women, we have eaten together, protested together and spoke side by side at countless venues in their fight for justice and to have their testimonies be heard. I have learned from these victims the methods and effects of human trafficking in 1942 Asia.
Although still active in the Comfort Women cause, my newest paintings are focused on Human Trafficking today. The method of abduction has not changed much, since the days of 1942 that the comfort women speak of. The stigmas attached to the victims, the struggles to reenter society, the lies told, the lives destroyed, and how the families are effected.
The stories I portray in this series of watercolors are depicted as twisted bodies, often using the Biblical symbols of crucifixion, scavenger birds and thorns to portray sin, the ultimate humiliation and shame hoisted upon these victims. The color scheme that I tend to use are the colors of bruises, and the human forms are often from several models, not just one, but a cast of models molded into one figure, beautiful features twisted into what mankind has made.
My large watercolors are usually multi-panel installations using large sheets of watercolor paper, often pinned together roughly, not limited to square or rectangle boarders, but panels that break the boundaries of traditional paintings. There is nothing pretty about the figures at first sight, however, i strive to convey an underlying beauty to each human figure to portray who they once were, who they might have been and who they dreamed of being.
In a multi-panel piece entitled "There but for Fortune" (Inspired by a 1960s song by protest singer Phil Ochs) there are a series of watercolor portraits of battered faces on torn and burnt paper, mounted on burlap. "We have no place to rest our feet" comes from a quote by a former comfort women, but is still applicable today in these aging sex workers with no promise for the future, a series of contorted bodies floating in mid-air, not belonging anywhere but drifting through life. "Identity" shows a woman removing the mask of youth, beauty and servitude and revealing an aging Asian face. "From the Shadows" depicts scarecrow-like images, almost human, but falling short of being regarded as having human feelings and emotions. These paintings are a portrait of man's inhumanity toward man, of greed and destruction. They are paintings of beauty and horror and a crime that has not changed its face throughout the years.
In 2010 I had the honor of designing the first Comfort Women Memorial in the United States which is in Palisades Park NJ, as well as working with a team of Human Rights advocates in Glendale California in 2012 bringing awareness and support for the Glendale California Memorial that was unveiled one year later.