Monday, Sept. 25, 2023

NewsSportsArtsOpinionThe QuadPhotoVideoIllustrationsCartoonsGraphicsThe StackPRIMEEnterpriseInteractivesPodcastsBruinwalkClassifieds

‘In between letting out and holding in’: Eunice Choi’s exploration of emotions

Dressed in a white button up, Eunice Choi sits on the steps of the Broad Art Center. The graduating design media arts MFA student recently had her work on display as part of the “TOWNHALL” thesis exhibition. (Grace Wilson/Daily Bruin)

By Victoria Munck

June 11, 2023 8:04 p.m.

Correction: The original version of this article’s headline incorrectly stated that Eunice Choi’s graduate thesis installation is titled “In between holding out and letting in.” In fact, it is titled “In between letting out and holding in.”

This post was updated June 13 at 8:17 p.m.

Eunice Choi is no longer afraid of getting personal.

The graduate student in design media arts incorporates her curiosities into a variety of material projects, including interactive sculptures and performative objects. Her most recent installation, “In between letting out and holding in,” was featured in the Department of Design Media Arts’ graduate thesis exhibition, “TOWN HALL.” Choi said the project was indicative of her growth throughout the program, which pushed her to evince her own emotions within more personal work.

“In my grad program, especially in my first year, I was the audience for myself and I was trying to understand how I think,” Choi said. “It was very weird, also somewhat different experience … and it was somewhat vulnerable for me to think about.”

Prior to her matriculation in 2021, Choi said, she directed her artistic focus toward playful, interactive installations while working in residence at a children’s museum. However, as her interest in slow movement increased over the years, she said she is now crafting pieces that encourage viewers to spend more time observing work in the art space. For the “TOWN HALL” showcase, she said she was able to utilize both interactive elements and reflective space to convey an earnest narrative.

With the intention of displaying a more personal story, Choi said she based the installation on loss and grief, using an assortment of mediums to comprehend her own experience with pain. She said the project’s title was inspired by a line in her diary where she detailed her challenge balancing the expression and restraint of emotion. One aspect of the exhibition was derived from her reflection upon the pain she held within her body through the use of fabricated cucumber slices, she said.

“I was thinking, ‘I am almost like a container for this liquified pain,’” Choi said. “I saw a cucumber as kind of similar. It holds a lot of moisture, and it led me to use that as a metaphor for something that I cannot describe with a word or language.”

Cucumbers sliced into irregular shapes and spirals lie on a table next to a cutting board with an image of round slices of cucumbers projected onto it. When it comes to her art, Choi said she gravitates towards items that are often overlooked. (Grace Wilson/Daily Bruin)
Cucumbers sliced into irregular shapes and spirals lie on a table next to a cutting board with an image of round slices of cucumbers projected onto it. When it comes to her art, Choi said she gravitates towards items that are often overlooked. (Grace Wilson/Daily Bruin)

[Related: Student’s art installations illustrate humanity and environment connection]

Choi said another contemplation-driven element of the installation was the space’s wall, which was lined with engravings of misshapen scissors. She thought of the instrument after comparing her initial inability to understand her pain to a nonfunctional tool, she said. As her contorted drawings of the scissors began to lose sharpness and more closely resembled ribbon, Choi said she found a metaphor for her oscillation between breaking down her emotions and tying them together.

“In between letting out and holding in” also featured an interactive refrigerator, which audiences could open. Choi said she included the object to contribute to a feeling of domesticity, presenting the installation as a safe space for her emotions. Choi’s friend and graduate student in design media arts Wiley Wiggins said he found the piece intriguing because it did not explicitly instruct viewers to open it, allowing for a sense of mystery and courage. He added that her allowance for audience curiosity within her art contributed to a new perspective on his own work.

“It’s having the bravery to let things be hidden and to have that relationship with an audience where you can’t meet each one of them, and you can’t trust every one of them, but you can create… portions of your work that reward time and attention and a little bit of bravery,” Wiggins said. “I think I feel a lot of kinship with her for her willingness to do that.”

Choi said she noticed her use of metaphor serves as a connecting thread across her work beyond her thesis installation. She said her interest in frequent observation often allows her to reinterpret existing and otherwise neglected items, such as socks and tomatoes, through the lens of her own thoughts. Choi then selects sculpting materials that align with her interpretation, she added.

Moreover, some of Choi’s pieces are crafted by hand, as evidenced by a project in which she said she made papier-mâché dogs to connect their chewing of paper to her obsessive thoughts. However, Choi said she also often uses an intricate digital fabrication process when milling and 3D-printing elements of her art. Fellow graduate student in design media arts Ariel Uzal said Choi’s thoughtful personality can be identified within the fabrication process behind her work.

“Eunice is a very gentle person that has a lot of care for people and I think that comes through in her work,” Uzal said. “The objects seem simple, but there’s great complexity in how they’ve been made. Those of us that work with fabrication, we immediately understand that they are difficult objects to produce that take a lot of labor and care.”

[Related: Graduate Open Studios exhibition showcases students’ career works]

Approaching her graduation, Choi said understanding the work from her program’s faculty inspired her to create projects out of her uncertainties. She spent her time in the school learning to be more honest with herself and experiment with her reactions to her environment, she said. While she is still reflecting on her two-year experience, Choi said she has no regrets about attending graduate school.

“I was questioning myself, ‘Am I experimenting enough? Am I pushing myself enough?’ or sometimes it was ‘Am I taking care of myself and my surroundings enough?’” Choi said. “I don’t regret anything at all. … I don’t regret my decision exposing myself to this environment.”


Share this story:FacebookTwitterRedditEmail
Victoria Munck
Featured Classifieds
Tutoring Offered

Writing Help Offered Writing/Editing/Tutorial Classes, Personal Statements, Dissertations, Theses. LSAT, MCAT, GRE, GMAT, TOEFL Verbal Test Prep. UC Writing Professor & Pro Leave voicemail 310-310-0583

More classifieds »
Related Posts