Lunar New Year (Seollal) is special here at Gimme. For our Founder, Annie, it is not only a time to celebrate happiness and good health for the new year, but also a time to honor family.
“When I was young living in Korea, Seollal was a special day of visiting family and honoring our ancestors to show love and respect. We would spend time together enjoying delicious foods, sharing gifts and playing games. One very special part of our celebration is bowing to elder family members dressed in traditional Koran clothes (Hanbok).”
To honor these traditions, we are thrilled to celebrate this Lunar New Year (The Year of the Dragon) in collaboration with DC-based artist and muralist Julia Chon (better known by her artist name Kimchi Juice). Her pieces - specially-created for Gimme -highlight the beauty of Korea, the importance of tradition, and convey a sense of harmony that helps set the tone for this important year.
We had the chance to catch up with Julia to talk art, the role of family and celebrating Lunar New Year.
Julia – celebrating Lunar New Year at the White House
How did you begin your career as an artist?
I’d always been creative as a child, but I started taking art seriously when I was 14. My parents were getting divorced, and I turned to painting as an outlet for my emotions. Through painting every day, I realized that I wanted to pursue art as a career. In 8th grade I asked my mom if I could be homeschooled, so that I would have time to practice painting and drawing. Although my mom said homeschooling was a no, she told me if I found an alternative program, she would be open to the idea. After doing research and coming up with a proposal, my parents both allowed me to do online high school so I could focus on art. I started exhibiting my work when I was 16 and painted my first mural when I was 17. By the time I was 18 I decided to be a full-time artist and haven’t looked back since.
Who or what inspired you early in your career?
Coming from a large Korean American family, my heritage was my first source of inspiration. Growing up very close to my grandparents, their stories of Korea and the traditions they passed down helped inform my identity. When I paint, I want to capture the love that my grandparents shared and still share with me to this day.
You have said you endeavor to portray strong, powerful Asian women like the ones you have grown up with. Tell us more!
Growing up in a large matriarchy, seeing strong Korean American women are part of my daily life. My grandmother has been my muse since I started painting. My earliest works were portraits of her I referenced from old family photographs. I think it’s important as a young Asian American woman artist to paint my experiences. When I paint, I want my portraits to reflect the admiration, complexity, and beauty that I see in my loved ones and in the every day.
What inspired the beautiful pieces you created for Gimme?
For my collaboration with Gimme, we wanted to celebrate the Lunar New Year and ring in the Year of the Dragon. Highlighting the beauty of Korea, I incorporated a traditional Korean dancer paired with a blue dragon. I wanted the happy energy of the dancer to come through with the playful strength of the dragon. Together, the dancer and dragon create harmony, yin and yang, with each other, both dancing together to create good luck and bring in an auspicious year.
Thank you Julia! For more inspiration, follow: Julia Chon @kimchi.juice
새해 복 많이 받으세요 (saehae bog manh-i bad-euseyo) = 'Please receive a lot of luck in the new year’!