Behind the magic of every Pixar film is a Korean-American.
That’s what the Consulate General of Republic of Korea’s “From Dreamed Reality” exhibition — running through Sept. 20 — hopes to remind visitors as they go through the arduous process of filling out visa or passport applications.
“We wanted to let folks who come in know that there are Korean artists who work at Pixar,” Jimin Kim, Deputy Consul General of the consulate, says. “Not many people know that behind those famous, popular animations are Korean-American folks who contributed and work there.”
The exhibition is the fourth installment of a now year-old project aimed to repurpose the consulate’s reception hall into a small gallery recognizing Bay Area-based Korean-American artists working in different mediums.
For this show, five artists were selected for their animation work — all of which currently work in various departments at Emeryville’s Pixar Animation Studios, but contribute unique upbringings and artistic styles to this gallery in Presidio Heights.
Terry Song, born in Houston, Texas and now a senior animator at Pixar, provides several sketches he drew while reconnecting with his family and cultural roots in South Korea. Drawn on location to capture the smallest, candid details of human behavior, Song puts the minutiae of Korean life from the streets of Incheon, Hongdae, Gyeongbok Palace and an airline flight onto pen and paper.
“Because [Korean] culture is different, you’ll end up getting different human behaviors,” Song says. “That kind of stuff is always good for animators even here in America just to see how different people can be.”
Hyein Park, who was born and raised in Seoul, South Korea until she moved to Canada at 13 and eventually became a story artist for Pixar, echoed similar intentions when she talked about her original designs, some of which featured a digital print of a skateboarding millennial shaman and a Korean fan dancer in motion.
“I thought it would be nice to show pieces that are very unique to me to show that, whoever comes in to this gallery, can see that somebody with this kind of very specific, original interest can still work at Pixar,” Park, who worked on the Academy Award-winning short film, “Bao,” says.
Other pieces include two wide display cases filled with numerous sketches by Pixar story artist Jeeyoon Park splayed out in the fashion of a disorganized and perpetually-working artist’s table.
To the right, a video by Pixar character designer Maria Yi retells historical Korean events through the frame of an Instagram-feed.
And concluding the exhibit, Sansu, a layout and light artist at Pixar as well as an independent illustrator and children’s book writer, channels the inspiration she gets from her family into cutouts and digital renditions of innocent, children’s illustrations.
Visitors of this small show will quickly become familiarized with a sense of national pride that is markedly distinct from American patriotism.
Like a Korean father whose loyalty to an American baseball team is dependent on the Korean player in it, this new exhibition is a testimony for pride in all things Korean.
IF YOU GO:
From Dreamed Reality
Where: Consulate General of the Republic of Korea, 3500 Clay St., S.F.
When: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays – Fridays; through Sept. 20
Contact: (415) 921-2251, overseas.mofa.go.kr/us-sanfrancisco-en/index.do