Beautiful Struggle
Hannah Ahn | Yuchae Lee

As Korean-born designers both coming to English-speaking countries, we share similar experiences of bilingualism and the values of different languages. Language has been an essential part of how we have defined ourselves and how we have connected with others. 

As a vehicle for communication, language makes connections possible, but it also serves as a barrier to understanding the embedded facets of a culture and its history. Especially in a “placeless place” like America, in which the culture can sometimes seem indistinguishable, we strongly feel the necessity not only to encourage the diversity of language but also to make more visible how it carries one’s culture and therefore, identity.

While globalization has promoted a more universal connection through English, we have been forgetting that translation into English can lead to a loss of the possibilities inherent in other languages, and eventually the loss of its connection to a culture, history, and place. We take on this issue from our experiences of going from one language to another – and often losing the essence of the Korean language when translating our thoughts into English. 

Beautiful Struggle raises awareness of what languages can encapsulate and remind our audience to appreciate their connections to language. We challenge the viewers to re-examine what is inscribed in their language and how personality and expression can be radically transformed when translated into another language. What do we gain and what do we lose?

As part of our research, we have conducted interviews with individuals coming from various backgrounds – first- to third- generation immigrants, international students, and local “American” students at MICA – and used their experiences as a basis for our designs. Our designs translate their backgrounds and specific encounters with Chinese, Hindi, Spanish, Vietnamese, Japanese, African-American vernacular, and other languages or dialects into visual forms of typography and calligraphy. By abstracting such forms of communication into aesthetic patterns, we construct a new visual language in which people from all backgrounds can communicate. 

The aesthetic beauty we find in our designs represents how language is a medium that builds connections and relations between different people. Through our designs, we invite the viewers to reflect on how language can be taken for granted. It is not a mere communicative device. We must acknowledge what it truly carries and conveys. What does language look like to you? What does it carry?

Marcellus Barnett | Arya Kapadia | Yuchae Lee | Declan McKenna
Jason Phan | Maria Sanchez | Yan Wang | Ethan Wong

Make Up & Hair
Estefanie Arrue | Irene Lee | Emma Talpey

Hannah Ahn | David In | Evelyn Ivy | Yuchae Lee


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