Reconnecting Through Colors

Rachel Yumi Chung is an artist & illustrator who uses vibrant colors to express her imagination. Her art helps her reconnect with her Korean heritage.

“We all have imagination, right? Colors are the way I like to express my imagination. But someone else may express it differently,” she shares. “Anyone can make the world more vibrant and a more beautiful place, even when reality feels really hard.”

Video Transcript

Meet Rachel Yumi Chung: painter and illustrator

(Rachel draws and paints in an art studio filled with natural light)

Rachel: It’s so playful. I think for what I create, it’s a lot of very vibrant pallets and bright chartreuse greens or peach.

I actually recently got back from a trip to Korea. It was more than a decade since I’ve been back to Korea, which is where my parents are from.

(Rachel and her mother and grandmother laugh and cook in the kitchen together)

Being both, like, American and Korean and growing up in both cultures, that’s something that I’ve really wrestled with. I think I really wanted to just be the American part of me versus the Korean side of me.

Part of that healing journey has actually been using art as a way to express, and to honor, that part of my identity.

When I went to Korea, it felt like a reflection of myself. Literally everywhere is wildflower fields, color, bright green rice fields. I just felt I was seeing my paintings come to life. I painted and drew every day when I was there. So these are some of the pages.

(Rachel flips through the pages of a notebook filled with bright colored paintings of fruit and landscapes)

I drew a lot of the things that I was eating or experiencing. So the first couple weeks I was there, it was fig season. So I was eating a ton of just fresh figs.

A lot of pages here, of places. I like to take those moments where I see in nature, and I like to make it more saturated and more playful. There is so much vibrancy to the world and so much color to the world.

I was going on a run one time and it was getting really hard. I just really wanted to give up. I was like, “I’m done. I’m not a runner. I can’t do this.” And I look up and I see the sunrise, and it is the most beautiful sunrise I’d ever seen. And I was just like, “Wow, this is so beautiful.” And I was so distracted by how beautiful the sunrise was that I just kept running. And I actually finished my run, and I didn’t feel as tired because I just felt so inspired by seeing that sunrise and feeling so affected by the beauty of that sunrise that it helped me to keep going.

Imagination. We all have imagination, right? Color is the way I like to express my imagination, but someone else might express it differently. Whatever brings that person joy, whatever inspires one to imagine a beautiful world— anyone can make their world more vibrant and a more beautiful place even when reality feels really hard.

(Rachel stands in front of a sunrise)

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