Rain Village

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How do you create Home?

Since 2018, multidisciplinary artist Soo Hong has pondered this question. Rain Village is a community arts project that brings together communities in conversation and creation on the topics of belonging and mutual empathy. Soo invites patrons to participate in an example of social practice by completing a mural of a topographic map of Kirkland. As a guest of the gallery, you are encouraged to add raindrops to the map, as well as view artworks on display that were created in separate iterations of this project in Seattle, Redmond, Issaquah, and Bellevue.

Featured Artists: You! There are many participatory elements of the Rain Village Project. Come visit and leave your mark.

Thanks to ForanSuon for creating the featured 3D ceramics.

KAC would like to invite patrons to attend artists panel discussion “Finding Home: Conversations on Community and Creativity,” on July 9 at 3 pm for a dialogue with artists Maja Sereda and Rupa Palasamudram, facilitated by Associate Curator Ellen McGiven and Miha Sarani.  Soo Hong will be there as well!

Closing Reception: Friday, August 5, 6 pm – 8 pm

Exhibition Dates: June 8 – August 6, 2022

Gallery Hours: Wednesdays – Fridays 12 pm – 6 pm, Saturdays 12 pm – 4 pm

 

Curatorial Conversations: An Interview with Soo Hong

To conclude the social engagement exhibition, Rain Village artist Soo Hong sat down with KAC staff to discuss the beginnings of her quest to bring community members together in conversation and creation on the spaces we value the most, our homes.

Rain Village is a community art project about home and a sense of belonging.

Community members create art simply by drawing a raindrop.

Rain symbolizes the Pacific Northwest – each droplet represents an individual living in the area.

This interview was conducted by Associate Curator, Ellen McGivern and has been edited for rules of language and brevity. 

McGivern: Soo, this exhibition has been a long time coming. Social engagement projects like your exhibition haven’t really been as accessible as they once were. Early on, I really enjoyed talking with you about the shape of a  rain drop and its meaning to you.  I’d love for you to talk about your inspiration behind using the shape and what it means to you within your creative practice.

Hong: When I arrived in Seattle my work shift shifted. So previously, I had abstract elements, but mostly figurative. When I opened my belongings I felt like this work was not mine. Maybe the environment changed my mind but it didn’t feel like it’s mine. I began to reinvent myself and was interested in creating more abstractly and less focused on relational images.  One day sketching,  a bubbly shape was constantly showing up  and then that bubbly shape turned into a raindrop.

At  some point, we (my Husband and I)  had to decide whether we could stay here in the PNW.  We had to agree to settling here, finding a job  and way of living. During this time I was seeking comfort and  I started to do raindrops paintings, actually, it was unconscious.  I started to draw a raindrop and related to what’s happening around me at that point. I began looking at people’s homes around my new neighborhood and I began to see people’s individual cultures displayed in ways on their home.  I saw many different people and cultures represented, more than I expected. I didn’t realize Seattle was so international. It was surprising that you know you feel like you’re an alien, you’re a stranger, but seeing how other people and cultures created their home gave me comfort. I started to do raindrops paintings and began applying for grants.  I had to write down and then kind of figured out unconsciously why I was doing this work and it  revealed to me that I want  to make this place as a home. I needed something to hold on to. . This is my home. This is how I feel safe.

The raindrop was actually giving me emotional safety. These paintings were a ritual for me to settle. I didn’t know when I would actually finish this series but during that time I thought about how others think about their home. People always ask how long have you lived here? 3 years 10 years 20 years. I noticed a lot of people were not from here but have decided to make this place home. I wanted to make something that talked about the immigrant experience,  and the decision to create a home. What kind of house do you have? What neighbor do you choose?  Did you have an option? Were you forced to live some place? You put your photos or family photos, you know, there’s little things that you create to fill, you are comfortable. So that was the question, I wanted to meet people and ask what does home mean to you? How do you create your home? 

McGivern: With each iteration of the rain village exhibitions, participants are creating artifacts and artworks that move the project forward. Are there any similarities or surprises that you’ve noticed within these exhibitions and these artifacts?

Hong: Actually, what I found is people like to share their story. Everybody’s life is different. Everyone’s experiences are different. So that means everybody’s perspective is different. When I was  doing the mural  before the COVID, the kids were standing and drawing raindrops.  The act of drawing is actually a second thing. The first was chatting to the people who were  next to you. Talking and sharing became the exhibition. Communicating to strangers can be kind of awkward, but it gives you a space to feel comfortable. These simple conversations can bring us together and we can find more things we all have in common.  I find in Rain Village the concept that is everybody’s different and everybody is actually the same as well. 

McGivern: You were commenting on how international the greater Seattle area is. Do you think that cities like Seattle need invitations for conversation because there is so much diversity in its population and influx of folks moving here from all over the world. I know you and I have spoke of this concept of  the Seattle freeze and how people from this area are viewed as being not friendly.  Are people not friendly here because everyone is just trying to find their home? Or do they just feel so disconnected from the ability to do so because there’s so much momentum and movement of people within this region?

Hong: My personal opinion here is that people are very kind.  I think people try to keep a bit of distance to give them comfort and then to like keeping their privacy.  But if you give a public space like in Rain Village and then you ask different types of people to join, people start feeling included and comfortable. 

I did a project called Utopia because I felt like I was in Utopia. And I was thinking about the concept of what is paradise? What is utopia? What is the best place or best condition for us to live? And how maybe normal, boring life is actually paradise. That’s safety in some way.

Please participate in Soo Hong’s social engagement project, Rain Village, until its closing on August 6th. A closing reception will be held on August 5th from 6-8 PM.