In 2012, Jiya left her home country of South Korea to explore the world, learn about herself and rekindle the artist inside her. And what an adventurous life she has had since - travelling to Asia, Europe, South America, Australia and New Zealand! Along the way she’s been making artworks, more recently in the form of pavement drawings in chalk. Jiya is also a photographer, glass blower and jewellery maker and has found that traveling has indeed reignited the creative fire in her and inspired a profoundly rewarding artistic practice.
In the beginning Jiya found travel, especially solo travel, hard and was frustrated by the many unexpected events travellers encounter. After a while though she learnt to accept, even welcome, the unexpected. Jiya’s refugee experience also helped her adjust to travel and she has even become comfortable travelling alone. I see foreign countries as places of escape, shelter and rest. I do not have a guide book, map or a plan. I don’t book accommodation ahead. I make the best of what I can find when I arrive. This way I have no expectations. I live in the present moment and enjoy the freedom this way of life brings me. You could call me homeless, even a beggar - but I call myself a traveller.
Her first travel bag contained many clothes and a range of personal items. Now it contains only a few garments, even fewer personal items and basic camping gear. My bag has lost half its weight, but my journal and online photo album have just gotten bigger and bigger!
Traveling has kept the artist in me alive. I had actually given my art practice up at home, but have found that traveling has given me a new creative drive and mind-set. Currently, I am working with chalk, in the streets of the many cities I visit. So far, I have made pavement artworks in Stuttgart, Amsterdam, Brussels, Paris, London, Melbourne - and hopefully many more in the future.
Hoodie Mag was fortunate to meet up with Jiya whilst she was visiting Melbourne. We spent some time talking with and photographing her as she drew on the pavement in Melbourne’s city centre. Jiya has a graceful poise about her, especially when she is drawing. Many people just sit and watch her draw, captivated by her calm and quietly composed manner.
Life happens on the street! People naturally approach me, sharing their cultural and life experiences - which in turn inspires me and my creative work. I love drawing in public and I love the direct interaction with people on the street. I particularly enjoy drawing with children. I often make a small circle next to my own, for them to draw in. Their imagination is boundless, like a well without a bottom - and so inspiring and motivating. To complete a drawing, I must clean up afterwards, which is my favourite and most peaceful moment.
Dreams and myths inspire my drawings. I love bringing new life to age-old myths. I also want to bring awareness to the endangered animals in the countries I visit. Many of my drawings feature these wonderful, but threatened creatures. I want to reach as big an audience as I can with my art, especially so I can raise awareness for the environmental, social and cultural issues I am interested in.
I believe art is a wonderful communication tool. For me it speaks better and more than words, because of its unique creative force and its power to communicate and connect with people. I plan to travel for a while longer, but do have the fantasy of settling down one day in a small cottage, reading about mythology.
As a young artist…I find it frustrating that making art doesn’t really cover my living expenses. I’d love to be able to support myself through the making of art, but I always have to have a second job (often not art related) to support my creative life. My future plans include finding a career pathway that makes both a social and creative contribution.
Photos: Jiya Da Chorona, Max Fotheringham, Max Life Shots, David Williams, Guy Le Guiff, Kaori Seki and Tiffaney Bishop.