Loretta Park (she/her) is a visual artist and holds an MFA from Massachusetts College of Art and Design and a BA from Bowdoin College.
Her work has been exhibited at Praise Shadows Art Gallery, Boston, Massachusetts (2022); Dimensions Variable, Miami, Florida (2021-22); The Umbrella Arts Center, Concord, Massachusetts (2021); Shelter In Place Gallery, Boston (2020); New System Exhibitions, Portland, Maine (2019); Ray Gallery, Brooklyn, New York (2018); Society of Arts and Crafts, Boston (2017); and Center for Maine Contemporary Art, Rockland, Maine (2017).
Reviews of exhibitions including the artist have appeared in Art New England, The Boston Globe and Korean Daily .Loretta currently works in the Boston area and serves as a visiting assistant professor at Massachusetts College of Art and Design.
I paint, cut, weave and crush objects to create three-dimensional pieces. Knowing anything can be altered with my hands, I choose to make with materials that are affordable and easily accessible: scrap wood pieces discarded from the school wood shop, plastic lunch plates found in dollar stores, and clothes I no longer wear.
Accessibility is one of the key elements in my work. Visually, I want the work to be accessible to different groups of people. Children may gravitate towards shiny, plastic plates. Some people may recognize mesh bags that once held onions and paper towels used to wipe paint brushes. Too often, art gets intellectualized and become unapproachable. I select affordable materials that can easily be found in hardware stores, recycling bins, and craft stores. I want people to come closer, see what they understand and start making sense of moments that are puzzling.
By altering recognizable objects, I make everyday items appear strange while leaving some materials to be identifiable. See-sawing between recognition and confusion, my work is at once tangible and abstract.
About "Fighting Sticks" Series
In the summer of 2019, I went hiking with a group of friends in the Pocono Mountains. During our hike, I found a long and thick tree branch. I picked it up immediately, and claimed, "Look, I found us a fighting stick." One of my friends remarked that it was funny how I immediately claimed it as a "fighting stick" when other people would have called it a "walking stick."
The branch reminded me of a wooden sword a child would use to play fight. At the same time, I was thinking about how this tree branch could be used to scare off wild animals and humans who mean us harm. I started creating "Fighting Sticks" based on this experience. I wanted to create a playful object that can be viewed as toy, a walking stick, a magical staff and a weapon.
As an Asian woman living in a world built on patriarchy and white supremacy, I was taught to stay alert and look out for signs of danger. My life can be threatened at any moment so I need to learn to protect myself and my loved ones.
My vigilance led me to view the tree branch as a tool for protection, a fighting stick. But I'm too tired of staying vigilant. I want to be able to pick up a stick and play. I want to see the stick as a tool for support rather than a tool of violence.