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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1860/2962

Title: The Experience of Immigration and Ethnic Identity as Revealed through Art Making Experience: A Phenomenological Study of 1.5-Generation Korean American Immigrants
Authors: Baik, Yeonji Lisa
Keywords: Art;Art Therapy;Korean Americans;Immigrants;Ethnic Identity;Phenomenology
Issue Date: 9-Feb-2009
Abstract: The purpose of this study was to explore the formation and development of ethnic identity and its psychological implications among 1.5 generation Korean American young adults through the process of creating and reflecting upon one’s artwork. The primary research questions for this phenomenological study were: How is the formation and development of ethnic identity recounted and expressed by 1.5 generation Korean American immigrants through artistic expression? What are these psychological experiences, as expressed through the art and interview process? The study utilized a phenomenological research method to collect and analyze the data obtained through the creation of three drawings and an open ended responsive interview with one young adult female participant. There is a lack of literature and research in art therapy with immigrant individuals about the psychosocial reactions to immigration and acculturation. 1.5 generation Korean American immigrants have immigrated at a young age before they have fully integrated a more mature identity, and they are exposed to the discrete cultural values of America and Korea. Abundant psychosocial research has indicated that a reluctance to consciously identify one’s own ethnicity and cultural background or perhaps an unconscious process of adaptation can be detrimental to one’s quality of life and psychological well-being. Since many of the cultural values and concepts are unconsciously integrated to one’s identity, the symbolic communication in artistic expression can provide a new means of communication to explore immigrant individual’s identities and serve as a synthesizer in integrating multiple levels of their identities. The essential structures that resulted from the analyses of the artistic and verbal data collected from the participant included her experience of: self differentiation from the environment; wish for comfort and feelings of connection to other immigrants; bi-cultural identification and awareness; alienation and fear of not belonging in any one identity; ongoing transition of self ethnic identity; individual hardship and a wish for validation of one’s struggles; and artistic expression as a means to exploring ethnic identity. The results of this study indicate that reflecting upon one’s immigration experiences and ethnic identity through the use of metaphors, such as the tree and the bridge, seems to result in new realizations and self reflections on one’s ethnic identity. The use of the three drawing procedures presented in this study can be used as an initial assessment tool in the clinical setting by providing both immigrant clients and clinicians about the degree of cross-cultural influence and pre- and post-migration experiences. It provides a framework from within which clinicians can discuss the interaction between the individual’s intrapsychic life with the external life circumstances, and how the individual has learned to adapt to those life changes. In a group or family session, this series of drawings can be used as a tool to share experiences and to facilitate understanding of each other about the process of acculturation among culturally displaced individuals. The combination of both the artwork and verbal associations to the artwork during the process of creating three metaphorical drawings can aid the individuals with secondary process symbolization, allowing them to visualize and synthesize cognitive and emotional aspects of self from past, present and future.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1860/2962
Appears in Collections:Health Sciences Theses and Dissertations

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