Kate Hers


Kate Hers


33 the age michelangelo started the ceiling of the sistine chapel


Berlin, Germany


visual artist

Own Words

I live and work currently in Berlin, Germany. Berlin is poor, but sexy.  It’s a volatile place to live, exciting and inspiring, but overcast and rainy. The 9th of November was the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. I can’t help but be reminded that Korea has yet to be re-unified. Moreover, I was just included in a timely exhibit here at the Neue Gesellschaft für Bildene Kunst called Shared. Divided. United: Germany-Korea Migration Movements during the Cold War.

As an artist, I work mostly in collaged-drawings which contemplate landscape as a site of nationalistic identity and propaganda, and performative video works which utilize film techniques and foreign language as a medium. I obtained my B.F.A. from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and my M.F.A. from the University of California, Irvine.

I grew up in Mount Clemens, a working class suburb of Detroit, 15 minutes by car north of 8 mile road.  I never had any Korean American friends much less knew any until I moved to Chicago when I was 18. I lived in Seoul for a time and studied Korean for about a year and a half, but still don’t speak well. I used to think there was something wrong with my brain and I couldn’t learn foreign languages, but when I came to Germany, I learned German quickly, like nobody’s business! I attribute my poor Korean language skill acquirement to what was then a lack of self-confidence and a major identity complex.

As a former social activist in trans-national adoption circles, I believe it’s time for overseas adoption in Korea to end. Korea needs to take responsibility for taking care of it’s own children and develop social welfare, especially as the 15th largest economy in the world. Because most of the babies being exported at this time are of single mothers who are being pressured by society to relinquish their children, it’s really in fact, a women’s rights issue.

On a more positive note, being Korean American for me should be without boundaries, as any culture should. Otherwise we become fraught with stereotypes and prejudices, “because as you know, Koreans are just like that.” Thus was born the frightening and damaging model minority myth. I find it much more provocative and empowering to recognize that as Koreans we cannot be straightforwardly labeled. We have so many different skills, talents, occupations and interests. We hold different political positions, religions, lifestyles and as a Diasporic people we live scattered all over the world, holding different passports, languages, and cultures. Nevertheless, what I would not mind being typecast as a Korean or Korean American is to be extremely multi-dimensional and tolerant of others.


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