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Nikki S. Lee Visiting Artist Response

Starting the presentation with a bit of a sense of humor, Nikki S. Lee quickly allowed her audience to get to know her fun and quirky personality. Nikki was a born and mainly grew up in a “Korea-Korea? environment as she put it. She only was a witness to Korean culture growing up, very unlike the mixed cultures young people today experience as they mature in American societies. Intrigued by American culture Nikki decided to move to New York City to pursue a career as a photographer. She decided to enter the commercial field and did not find it artistically satisfying. As she began to do her own work, she experimented with concepts of reality. What was real to her and what was fake? She went to galleries and read books focusing on photography and philosophy. Eventually she was led to the idea of exploring identity issues. She stated that “I exist because others exist? concentrating on the idea that the people you surround yourself with affect how you act. “Why am I so sweet to boyfriend ‘A’ and a bitch to boyfriend ‘B,’? she asked herself. Nikki came up with the conclusion that everyone’s personality has various “layers? (which she entitled one of her recent works). Each layer is either peeled away or built up according to the types of relationships you are in and the experiences you have. “How many faces do people have,? she wondered? In this work she used multiple transparent paper drawings of herself and layered them on top of each other for a picture. We were not able to see the work, but it would have been interesting to see how the different artists perceived her. How did other people and cultures see her face?

She also demonstrates this identity concept in her work by showing herself in pictures with her various partners. In the “snapshots? her partners’ faces are cut out, leaving only parts of his body visible. It is evident how her personality shifts from picture to picture and person to person. She leaves the features of her partner out of the picture to allow the viewer to make his/her own story about the work. I thought this method was powerful. I was able to relate to the work and it made me question how the people in my life cause my personality to change. It made me realize that life is too short to be around people who bring the worst out in you. The purpose of those images for her was to review her identity through others thoughts. However, I think the viewers were able to review and question their identities through her work.