Cat Lamora, Artist – Toronto
Cat Lamora is a Korean-Canadian paper artist. Through the fragile and temporary medium of paper, her work strives to preserve the brief liminal space created at the crossroads of diaspora consciousness, memory, culture, and nostalgia. She is interested in exploring the qualities of ambiguity and disorientation, and the ephemeral events experienced and forgotten that fringes between everyday reality and surreality. In an attempt to embrace the fragile nature of the medium, every installation is assembled, presented, and disassembled differently, just as our memories are changed and re-embedded each time they are recalled. Her installation The Aberrant is on display at Xpace from January 18 to February 23.
Dancheong is a traditional Korean way of painting the underside wood structures of temples and palace buildings. From even before the Three Kingdoms Period, patterns and colours similar to dancheong were used to decorate, tell stories, and ward off evil. There are five predominant colours used in the painting of these intricate patterns: blue, red, white, black, and yellow. Each colour is associated with an element and a season, and every structure is painted differently with unique elements and historic accounts. I’m obsessed with the different dancheong across Korea, and the myriad of ways five simple colours can be combined to paint almost a secret narrative on the walls.
Minhwa was proliferated during the Korean Chosun Dynasty (1392-1897) by travelling artists who had no formal training. They would often set up shop at the local marketplace or under the sacred tree of the village and take requests. The word minhwa directly translates to “people’s paintings.” They often featured animals, insects, mountains, and rivers – all things that people could see, feel, and touch. They assigned certain symbolic meanings to these elements and believed that hanging minhwa featuring them in their homes would bring corresponding blessings. My work is heavily inspired by elements of minhwa, and I love reading about the intricate symbolism and the meanings behind every element that is painted into a scene.
I recently started working with wood to rebuild my studio. A carpenter named Gary was there to give advice and help build the studio and gallery. His expertise was invaluable. It was so satisfying to imagine a structure and make it all come together piece by piece. I still don’t know much about carpentry and designing structures, but I’m itching to learn more and do more in the near future.
4. Immersive themed spaces
Growing up in Korea, I got to experience a lot of themed spaces. From museums to the local alley coffee shops, these places transport people to a world the artist imagined. There’s something so beautiful and satisfying about them. When I was young, someone once said to me that even if we both imagined a pink elephant, my pink elephant would always look different from their pink elephant. I admit, I still haven’t quite figured out why I enjoyed this seemingly simple statement so much, but I can’t help thinking that I love these imagined, themed spaces because they provide a glimpse of the artist’s pink elephant.
5. Public baths
Mokyoktangs translate in English to “bathing pools.” They were a versatile place to every local: a place to nurse a hangover, a place to bathe and eat hard boiled eggs and drink banana milk while drying your hair in front of a small fan. We all held special meaning in the act of going to the bath house. Each public bath had a long-running clientele. Children grew older, got married, and continued coming back through generations to bathe. Every mokyoktang held the stories and history of the town and its people. I grew up going to the public bath every weekend with my parents and even to this day, I cherish those memories of lazy Sunday mornings, soaking in the hot water, and lounging around the platform after drying off, sipping on cold drinks