‘Dilectio’ art gallery presented by Young Joon Kwak plays with the idea of plastic and plasticity of a body

Young+Joon+Kwak%2C+LA-based+artist%2C+is+presenting+%E2%80%98Dilectio%E2%80%99+art+exhibiton.+Her+art+will+be+at+the+Cerritos+College+Artist-in-Residence+Gallery+from+Feb.+10+through+March.+13.+Photo+credit%3A+Rocio+Valdez

Young Joon Kwak, LA-based artist, is presenting ‘Dilectio’ art exhibiton. Her art will be at the Cerritos College Artist-in-Residence Gallery from Feb. 10 through March. 13. Photo credit: Rocio Valdez

Rocio Valdez, A & E editor

LA-based artist, Young Joon Kwak is presenting ‘Dilectio’ art exhibiton at the Cerritos College Artist-in-Residence Gallery from Feb. 10 through March 13.

James Mac Devitt, Director/Curator of the Cerritos College Art Gallery and Professor of Art History and Visual/Cultural studies, explained that the Artist-in-Residence program allows for artists outside of campus to come in and collaborate on a project with one of the departments in the technology division.

“The purpose is to gain a set of skills so that you can then go out into the workforce and get a job and make a living,” he said.

Devitt explained how the residency introduces art students to the idea that they can produce work with different materials, “you can make art with paint and ceramics but you can also make it with resin, metal, and wood, there is no reason why we should limit ourselves,” he said.

“The art residency allows us to teach art students that they can expand their skills sets and allows us to introduce the technology students to a different way of thinking about the materials that they are already working with,” said Devitt.

This year they collaborated with plastics and composites, and one of the artists selected by the committee was Young Joon Kwak’s project which plays with the idea of plasticity of a body.

“Kwak is a trans artist and a lot of the work deals with the fluidity of gender, and plastic is this thing that we’re increasingly overloaded with, there is notions of toxicity and it’s something we should be scared of.

“In the same way society still, despite being more enlightened, I would hope, is scared of the fluidity of identity of trans people, so this is a way to play with those notions of gender specifically the focus on genitalia,” said Devitt.

“Dilectiois,” the Latin word for dildo, also refers to delight, pleasure and love.

Kwak has been a professional artist for about 10 years. She got interested in creating art due to the lack of representation in visual culture/media and wanted to create the things she wanted to see in the world.

“I was coming to this work from a critical angle of the way by which throughout history and consumer culture women have been viewed as objects, but also coming from a place of joy and pleasure and wanting to create that experience for other people too,” said Kwak.

Kwak got inspiration from her own experience being trans and exploring ‘non-normative’ bodies to create art pieces that challenges the different standards of sex and gender.

‘Surveillance Mirror Vaginis lll, 2020,’ shows a mirror coming out of the vagina with hands around the surveillance mirror that are casts of some of Kwak’s’ queer and trans friends.

“I started incorporating surveillance mirrors in my work at the time when there was a lot of transgender bathroom bills going on, and a lot of surveilling, policing of peoples bodies, and disagreements of gender and the kind of bathrooms you can use based on your actual selves versus what your genitals look like,” said Kwak.

Another art piece is ‘Flesh Columns, 2020,’ which are drawings of the interior of vagina replica male sex toy.

“They are marketed as looking and feeling like real vaginas but clearly they are geared towards men desires, you think about how limited peoples views of bodies are but then you look at all the crazy shit that’s being mass manufactured that’s supposed to be some kind of standard for bodies,” said Kwak.

Devitt also shared that, “Generally we understand as a society that gender and sex are not the same thing, but there are still a lot of politicians and people writing legislations that focus very heavily on this notion of sex and gender being one and the same and this show is trying to get people to think about the complexities of what that really means.”

Anna Javier, from the city of Bellflower, used to work in the gallery years ago and tends to attend art gallery openings. She met Kwak before the opening and she was curious to see the completed work.

Javier shared one of her favorites was the ‘Flesh Columns, 2020’, “they are the insides of a male sex toy, when you see that you just wonder why, there’s the real thing and why do you need that,” she said.

Anthony Figueroa, art major, stopped by the gallery out of curiosity.

“I like it, I like the underline of sexuality, I like the green one where the frame engraved in the wall [Cuxis (Princess X, Adam & Eve, Caryatid), 2020],” Figueroa said.

Kwak shared that most of the art in this exhibition has been a continuation of work that she has been creating for months. The first and the last art piece she started was the ‘Surveillance Mirror Vaginis lll’ which changed a lot throughout time and was finished recently.