Heejae Jo was born in Seoul, Korea, in 1987. Having an interest in learning how people acquire emotion and their patterns of behavior, she studied Educational Psychology at Sookmyung Women’s University. Attending a women’s school also gave a great impact on her feministic perception.
Studying abnormal psychology in university, she has been questioning the boundaries between normal and abnormal. In her art, she likes to experiment with what we believe is normal—tradition, universal value, and rational ways of thinking.
She immigrated to Canada in 2015. She earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from OCAD University. Her identity as an immigrant and an Asian female with her interracial marriage life is a major subject matter in her art.
As an immigrant, the relationship between my identity and my new surroundings became one of the most important subject matters in my art. Since I moved to Canada, my Korean identity has become more visible in a foreign country. With my art, I aim to express my complex identity as an immigrant, a minority, and an Asian female in an interracial marriage.
My paintings are inspired by my dreams and memories. In my dreams, my memories of Korea and Canada often blend together. Using my subconscious, I try to navigate the relationship between my Korean identity and Canadian surroundings. Even though dreams are illogical and nonsensical, they help me catch a glimpse of my feelings about the experiences in my new surroundings.
The main material that I use is acrylic. But I am open to using various media. My works are composed of different applications such as doodling text/sketches, collaging recycled objects and using industrial materials. Automatism is the main technique that I follow. I begin painting with some images and colours without planning the whole work. The next step will be accompanied with intuitive decisions in a calculated manner. My goal is to compose each of the elements in harmony. I believe that not knowing the outcome is a key to make the process more fun and enjoyable. This positive attitude toward the uncertainty is revealed in my paintings.
I believe in the beauty of imperfection. When I find an ugly and awkward moment between colours and shapes in my art, I feel relieved and natural. The shape of lives is not always perfect. It is stained, marked, crushed and scattered. So is art, I believe. I enjoy my process of looking for the best harmony among the absurdities.