Carolyn Park, CA
Carolyn Park is a Los Angeles based writer and Spanish & Korean to English translator. Her writings on artists and contemporary art have been published in catalogues produced by the 18th Street Arts Center and Baik Art, and in 2018, she was sponsored by the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes to participate in the School of Art Criticism organized by the Sala de Arte Público Siquieros in Mexico City. By connecting with storytellers, she seeks to explore how personal narratives are shaped by cultural metaphors. div>
As a Story Terrace writer, Carolyn interviews customers and turns their life stories into books. Get to know her better by reading her autobiographical anecdote below.
The Chicken Ad
When my brother and I were 2 and 4 years old, my visionary mother decided we could sell fried chicken. My parents were already operating a small restaurant inside the HK Market in Koreatown and their friend was looking to advertise his neighboring stand with a large advertisement.
They met, strategized, and ventured to produce a photoshoot: my brother, with his organically grown mullet, and I, with my semiotically adjacent chef’s hat, would pose with a platter of fried chicken behind a white studio backdrop. The result was a photo series of us, as giggling toddlers in a mukbang circa 1994.
Though the photoshoot was a success, the final ad never went up and so we lived with this large framed photograph for years. With every move we made (which was often), it would always take up an entire wall, prompting conversations that inevitably led to the retelling of my parents’ humble beginnings.
As self-made Americans, storytelling imparted a raison d’être and gave form to their notions of sacrifice, grit, and assimilation. In many ways, their anecdotes served as the vehicle through which I was meant to internalize their values and cultural sensitivities.
The story of my grandmother and mother selling handmade dresses door-to-door in São Paulo was her moral tale eulogizing the values of work ethic. It was the same message that my father wished to instill, when he recounted his experience learning English curse words while working as a garbage truck driver in Canada.
I often find outtakes from that series stored away in books and scattered across photo albums. With each candid shot, I can recall my brother’s infectious laugh, the anticipation and hunger I felt while peering through the tented foil, the stiffness of those yellow aprons, the glossy sheen of the stickered lettering, and the nagging temptation to peel each one off.
If our memories are mental constructions that represent our perceptions from a specific point in space and time, the four-year-old self I’ve recounted is the mirage of who I imagine myself to be today. This version of me is easily stirred by emotion and carried away by the power of visualization. It’s the most performative part of me that betrays my longing for composure.
Perhaps the interiority I experience in revisiting old myths is the foil for disengaging the trappings of cultural authenticity. Perhaps it is an attempt to tell the story from the perspective of someone who is neither here nor there, but merely a medium through which to engage the power of narrative as an exercise in self-awareness.
Get in touch today to work with Carolyn!