Bhutanese Students After School
7 x 5” print
“During a trip to the Himalayan region in 2015 for a personal project, I felt shared Asian hospitality with the people I met which gave me a certain degree of belongingness as well as jeong, and made me feel welcome. I found myself connecting strongly to the area as a South Korean American. Seventy percent of Korea is covered with mountains, and seeing children playing outside in Thimphu, Bhutan reminded me of my childhood in South Korea. I asked if I could join in their games, and they welcomed me in. There was an atmosphere of joy and a clear connection to nature those afternoons playing in the mountains. I took this picture as a record of these blissful memories, which were created after my own childhood memories resurfaced and made me long for something more tangible.”
Mary Inhea Kang is a South Korean American photographer driven by a desire to understand and document the identities we construct for ourselves, which affect how we build our world. Mary was born in Icheon, South Korea and later moved to Austin, Texas. Through her work, she explores the tensions and limits between individualism and collectivism, as well as interdependence and connectivity. When approaching photos, Mary is inspired by her friend Shiyam Galyon’s quote, “I want to live in a world that feels moved by photos of non-white people at their best moments in life, rather than at their worst” while not ignoring the real issues that many marginalized communities face. She mentions this because dignity is often overlooked when it comes to the depiction of people of color in mainstream media. Appreciative of teamwork, Mary finds meaningfulness in collaborative efforts with the people she photographs. Outside of work, Mary volunteers as a board member at Authority Collective, a group that seeks to empower and amplify the visual narrative works of marginalized identities, share resources, and build community.