Hee Eun Chung
My project, Queerean (Queer + Korean) Jesus, exhibits my experience as a Korean trans person through self-portraiture and the appropriation of religious imagery. My exploration of printmaking involves cyanotype emulsion, as if to reimagine a baptismal rebirth. The stained glass canvas dives into the photosensitive solution like a newborn person in holy water. The religious undertones of the glass base pay homage to the confines of my queer identity, growing up in the Church.
Through this piece, I insert my trans body into religious spaces and retell the story of Doubting Thomas—with me as Jesus. Before Jesus was crucified, he was known as the Lord of Sorrows, carrying a lot of his burden and weight. Then, after Jesus was crucified and resurrected, he became a different person, almost radiating with new energy. This newness made him unrecognizable to his disciples. One disciple, in particular, Thomas, doubted the fact that the Jesus who resurrected from the dead and was made anew in his holy identity was the same Jesus that Thomas had always known. Jesus then showed Thomas his crucifixion scars to prove himself real.
When I began forming my own identity, I experienced similar feelings that the Lord of Sorrows did: confusion, chaos, etc. As Jesus died and rose again, I essentially did the same. I experienced a death of my old self and then a renewal of my current self in my trans identity. But, I am also constantly having to prove to my family and others that I am still the same person they’ve always known.
My piece captures the pivotal moment of new life after death through the means of a baptism. As the transparent glass is stained with a cyanotype fixture in the image of me, it mirrors the process of being “born again.” I bathe in the baptisms of queer transition, and I fight to be seen just as Jesus had.
My piece challenges the cis-heternormative culture in Korean society and inspires a conversation about seeing Korean trans bodies as a part of a personal religious experience.