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God and the Asian American Artist

Is there room for a David Choe in your church?

There’s simply something intriguing about an artist and his art. Perhaps it is because God as the Creator has made us in his image that we take on a certain divine resemblance and authority when we also create.

It’s a curiosity that most Asian Americans who dare to be creative in the face of our parents’ wishes to be practical and profitable are cast off as failures and deemed as having wasted their lives.

But the last time I checked, the Gospel is not practical or profitable either.

Anyone who has wrestled with a simple case of “writer’s block” should understand the notion that the act of creation requires something of us. It pains us to try and express ourselves. It is unnatural and somehow divine. Perhaps it is actually divine and somehow made natural in us.

Even though most of us grew up taking violin or piano lessons, it seems that Asian Americans have over-emphasized the performance aspect as opposed to the composition aspect. It’s much easier to read than to write, to appreciate than paint, and to imitate than innovate. But perhaps that’s the crux of the problem – you cannot “imitate” the life of Christ, it has to be “created” in you. When we merely consume to sustain ourselves and then work to secure all that we have gathered, we have fallen short of that creative image of God, we become less than human. Why would the church want to perpetuate that?


About David Park

Christian 2nd-generation Korean American; Atlanta Georgia; more details to come.

5 responses to “God and the Asian American Artist

  1. Katie ⋅

    Here’s his website :
    Yes I agree with the comment from his website
    [SLOW JAMS -I hate david choe why? Because he makes me feel old,tired,talentless, and unwilling to take chances. As you might expect, Choe is young,energetic, prodigiously talented, and takes many chances…his use (abuse?) of the English language is fresh and uncontrived; His schizophrenically restless art school technique ( dropping macaroni noodles, seamlessly blending clip art, photo collage and childhood scrawling) is startlingly unpretentious.]
    I hope that I have a chance to see his drawing about bible

  2. Thanks for the website Katie. Yes, his internalization of the figure of Christ was fascinating even in that short little video clip. I agree, on his website where he mentions wanting to illustrate the entire Bible, that sounds very intriguing.

  3. LT

    David Choe is an incredibly gifted young Asian-American artist. I’ve been a long time fan. His story, his life rather, is pretty amazing all-together. I agree with Katie, he makes me feel old, talentless and the need to grow some. Let’s commission him to illustrate the Bible bro. I’d love to see that. Thanks for posting this Dave.

  4. daniel so

    David — Wow, great video. Since being introduced to graffiti art culture in college, I have always enjoyed the work of thought-provoking artists like Banksy. Now I can add David Choe to the list.

    We have a wonderfully gifted artist who is graduating from high school this year. She was actually accepted into the Rhode Island School of Design but, because of that whole “practical and profitable” mantra, her parents have pushed her towards studying psychology at a state school. Sigh. The terrible irony is that she could be much better off financially pursuing an art degree from such a prestigious school, particularly with the connections she could make there.

    My brother in law is a writer at the Columbia graduate program in NYC. We used to talk a lot about the connection between art, creativity and pain. Perhaps we, as the church, shy away from creativity because we are so interested in pain management? Increase our comfort, minimize our suffering, and on and on. Safe, stable and so utterly dull and lifeless. Certainly, we should value safety and stability (especially when we’re talking about our own kids) but not as an idolatrous obsession.

  5. dengjosh ⋅

    Wow, that last paragraph is hittin me like a brick. I’ve always wondered why I was so much better at learning Hillsong songs than creating my own…haha.
    “you cannot “imitate” the life of Christ, it has to be “created” in you”…genius! Agreed wholeheartedly.

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