Anna Youngyeun: I feel funny, but I like it

Truman alumna Anna Youngyeun’s I feel funny, but I like it exhibition is now on display in the cube in the Truman State University Art Gallery. This exhibit consists of fibers works and drawings that draw attention to the ambiguous boundary between feelings of comfort and discomfort. Youngyeun will return to campus on Thursday, November 19 to speak with students about her work (time TBD).

In this exhibition, Youngyeun draws from her experiences growing up in a Thai-Chinese household in Missouri. She struggled with her cultural identity because she never felt fully at home in American society, but also felt alienated from her Thai-Chinese heritage.

In attempts to quell her embarrassment, Youngyeun found that making herself vulnerable and laughing at that discomfort helped her come to terms with her identity. She discovered that awkward experiences can lead to empathy. The artist makes herself vulnerable to the viewers through her work in hopes that they too will find the confidence to be vulnerable themselves.

“The work provides opportunities to find humor in hardship and empathy in embarrassment,” said Youngyeun.

I feel funny, but I like it presents a combination of familiar and unfamiliar works in a single space. There are framed works on walls, but also tactile soft sculptures that you are encouraged to touch, lay in, or hug.

“I create sensory experiences that allude to sensations such as weightlessness, pressure, and simple gestures such as hugging or hiding,” said Youngyeun. “What is comfortable, playful, and fun can also be restrictive and oppressing.”

In the past, Youngyeun’s work has been interpreted in a variety of ways. Some people identify and connect with her pieces, while others have been confused, disinterested, or even offended.

“I hope everyone laughs at least once for some reason,” said Youngyeun when asked what she wants views to take away from her exhibition. “The rest is up to them.”

Anna Youngyeun said Truman State University’s interdisciplinary focus inspired her research and practices. Her artwork intersects with broader concepts, which permits her to explore many things at once. She looked forward to installing her works at Truman.

“I had a positive experience at Truman, and I think about it fondly,” said Youngyeun. “I also worked at the University Gallery for a scholarship job, so it’s fun to come back from the other side and install my work.”

Art became Youngyeun’s outlet after enrolling in art courses at Truman. She began taking fiber courses, which allowed her to connect with her familial history of cloth work. She was able to find common interests with her mother, which she struggled with before due to cultural and generational differences.

I feel funny, but I like it encourages people to pay attention to things that are so easily overlooked within themselves and others. In doing this, people have the potential to become more empathetic and gain a better understanding of the people around them.

By Anna Lang

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