ANNOUNCEMENT OF OUR WRITER-IN-RESIDENCE
The Boston Literary District, in partnership with Emerson College, is pleased to announce our first ever writer-in-residence.
Justine Chang is an artist based in Providence, Rhode Island. After earning a BFA in photography with honors at the Rhode Island School of Design, Justine has focused on using photography and writing based on personal experience and memory to transform histories and archives. With a decade of professional expertise in editorial and commercial photography, she has also worked with the local artists and galleries in Boston, Providence, Philadelphia, and Seoul. Her commitment to equal access and representation in the arts has helped reach and serve unheard voices, and has been expanded through her experiences as adjunct faculty, translator, and teaching artist.
Justine’s work has been exhibited at Woods Gerry Gallery, Red Eye Gallery, and most recently at the Korean Cultural Society of Boston’s Annual Exhibition in Lexington, MA. Her photography has also been featured in various publications including The Wall Street Journal, Architectural Digest, Der Greif, Aint-Bad, Phases Magazine, and Thisispaper Magazine.
What impressed us most about Justine’s writing was its lyrical quality, the relationship between text and images, and the work’s nuanced engagement with the history of immigration in the United States, in addition to her interest in family histories, language dictionaries, and various archives, and stories that are often hidden or untold or include elements of obfuscation and silence. We are extremely excited to be a part of Justine’s development as a writer and an artist.
Between July 15th and August 15th, Justine will live in an apartment provided by Emerson College, within the Boston Literary District, and will receive a one-year membership to the Boston Athenaeum, and a welcome package from the Boston Improvement District. To contact her for public appearances or interviews, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. To see more of her work, visit justine-chang.com.
Q&A WITH JUSTINE CHANG
Whose work most inspires you, or informs your own?
I first learned of Anne Carson through her book, Nox. She weaves a word-by-word analysis of a Greek poem with a personal search to complete the story of her dead brother. It is less about who her brother actually was, and more about the loss and impossibility of grasping a person who once was. The slivers of photographs do not contain people, but backgrounds, edges and shadows (because sometimes an image reveals nothing). I am interested in the increasingly fragmented state of the world, and how the promise of wholeness somehow remains. Danh Vo’s We the People is another good example of this! Falling short of wholeness is relevant to all of us.
How do you see your visual art and written work in conversation with one another?
My work involves taking my unique access to untold narratives to modify existing histories and archives. I use my pen and my camera to accumulate things until they spill over, and from there I find the connecting threads that run through all the pieces. I see photography and writing as two ways of directing attention: I can point at one thing while saying another. Writing can conjure images that do not exist in photographs, and often guides how I edit my photographs, which are more symbolic than narrative. For me, both rely on the afterimages they create.
How do you feel yourself connected to the literary community and history of New England?
I came up to New England to attend RISD, and haven’t left since. I feel connected and cared for by the people I’ve met here, and the small writing community I found towards the end of my studies helped me adjust to life after graduation. It’s also fascinating to read about the history and recent statistics of the Korean diaspora in Boston, especially seeing certain very real aspects of my own life being articulated in an encyclopedic way.
What most excites you about living in Boston for a month?
I’m super excited to explore the city and its libraries! Whenever friends visit, I take them to see all the libraries in town, despite their initial skepticism about my enthusiasm. They are beautiful spaces but also accessible and I love stumbling across books the way you couldn’t online. I think the same thing can happen on the streets too. I remember walking through the fog sculptures that were all along the Emerald Necklace parks last year. It was magical.
What book are you reading right now?
I have been reading Sebald’s Rings of Saturn and Carmen Maria Machado’s Her Body and Other Parties. Next on my list is Native Speaker by Chang-Rae Lee.