“Sang-ah Choi’s installation ‘All you can eat—Holiday everyday, Transcontinental flower and bird painting: NY to OR, Rainbow’ chronicles the artist’s cross-country road trip from New York to Oregon. As a foreign-born American, Choi’s installation reflects the dissonance in understanding the American landscape and culture through consumption and excess. An installation of three shelves, the top shelf displays an arrangement of stuffed animals and plush toys lined up in chronological order by holiday. On the lower shelf, cereal boxes are organized in a rainbow spectrum. The middle shelf presents a more complicated and layered expression of the cultural disparity experienced by Choi. Intricately and densely made, each pop-up diorama, inspired by the boxiness of a McDonald’s Happy Meal package, details Choi’s road trip. Each state is represented by a state bird and flower and further layered by the actual road trip itself—a landscape of highways, motels, chain restaurants, gas stations, and road signs.
Additionally, Choi incorporates the traditional Korean format of Ship-jangsaeng (십장생, Ten Symbols of Longevity), originally a Daoist expression of the wish for a long and healthy life represented all from nature: sun, mountain, cloud, water, rock/stone, crane, deer, turtle, mushroom, and pine tree. These motifs, shown in a cartoon-like illustration, weave playfully throughout the entire panoramic scene. Encountering a new culture shifting through impressions of the great American stores and wide-open roads, Choi wrote of the experience: ‘Being a foreigner in a different culture was an overwhelming yet exciting experience for me. At first, I thought the language was the only challenge since I felt that I had been exposed to American pop culture in Korea throughout my upbringing. But soon, I realized the cultural ramp-up is a long process—knowing it is not the same as living it.’ “
—Grace Kook-Anderson, The Arlene and Harold Schnitzer Curator of Northwest Art
Sang-Ah Choi (Korean, active United States, born 1971). All you can eat—Holiday everyday, Transcontinental flower and bird painting: NY to OR, Rainbow, 2007–2012. Mixed media. Museum Purchase: The Arlene and Harold Schnitzer Endowment for Northwest Art and the Northwest Art Council, 2013.66.1a-fff © Sang-Ah Choi