Yong Soon Min: A Legacy of Artistic Exploration and Cultural Identity

Make Me All, 1989

— Make Me, 4 part bifurcated self-portraits, 20” x 16” each, Seoul Museum of Art installation view, 2014

Yong Soon Min, a very well respected Korean American artist known for the deep impact of her work on Asian American identity through her art, passed away at her home in Los Angeles on March 12, 2024, aged 70. Min was born in Bugog, South Korea, on April 29, 1953. By 1960, she and her family had immigrated to the United States. They settled in Monterey, California. She started her educational career at the University of California, Berkeley, where she studied and earned her Bachelor of Arts in 1975, her Master of Arts in 1977 and her Master of Fine Arts in 1979.

The career of Min was characterized by her introspective exploration of Asian American identity, politics, individual experiences, and culture and she reflected her thoughts on those subjects through various mediums such as installation art, photography, printmaking, and mixed media. Her work wasn’t just about personal stories but also was a bigger discussion about the Asian diaspora as well as cultural identity including its complexity. One of the most notable works was “deColonization” (1991), which demonstrated how she mastered the technique of combining the individual and collective histories, including traditional Korean elements as metaphors for the exploration and the commentary on the development of Korean-American identity and history.

Her impact extended beyond her art, as Min also served as a professor emeritus at the University of California, Irvine, contributing significantly to the academic community. Furthermore, her collaborative spirit was evident in her marriage to artist Allan deSouza in 1992, with whom she often worked on art projects. Min’s contributions were recognized through several awards throughout her career, including the Anonymous Was A Woman Award in 2001, a Fulbright Fellowship in 2010–2011, a Rockefeller Foundation Grant in 2003, and participation in the National Studio Program at P.S.1 in 1991.

The art community along with the ICA LA, where Yong was a member of the artist advisory council, mourned the death of the artist and she was also acknowledged by the latter institution. Her heritage though is not only preserved through her art but also through her influence on Asian American artists and those who collaborate with other marginalized groups. Min’s artworks keep surprising and making us thoughtful, and they are an essential part of the art and cultural dialogue.

Min, Yong Soon - Selected Work - artasiamerica - A Digital Archive for Asian / Asian American Contemporary Art History

Defining Moments, 1992

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