ET: You live in Oakland now, but where are you from originally? How does place influence your work?
KO: I am originally from Los Gatos, California. The entire Bay Area influences my work, particularly the water that surrounds it. As kids, we spent a lot of time at the beach and near the Bay. We would often visit San Francisco and Marin County, and I was always excited to see the fog, the sailboats, Alcatraz Island...it was such an exciting place to grow up. Water is a constant theme in my work and it is absolutely a result of growing up surrounded by it.
ET: There are a lot of reoccurring motifs in your work - linear fans, diamonds, arcs - can you talk about the significance of these or why you're drawn to them?
KO: My first introduction to artwork were the Chinese prints that my grandmother had hanging around her home. So, Asian art was my point of entry when I began painting. Asian art still highly influences my work, from the dyeing of the paper to the various forms and ideas. The fans look very Asian and remind me of that influence, as well as of my grandmother. I love the fans because they are organic and have circular and straight lines, and I love that mix - it's so versatile. I use a lot of geometry and repetitious line-work because it is a form of meditation for me. I'm drawn to things that, at first glance, look simple or minimal, but actually take a lot of craftsmanship and patience. I feel like these motifs have been around for centuries and people have been using these shapes from the beginning. I'm interested in seeing if I can reinvent these and create something new and exciting with this shared imagery.