Third Culture Kids (TCKs) Grace Kim and Susan Mousakhani use their art to highlight their globally mobile lifestyles while growing up.
Understanding the world
Kim spent more time living nomadically throughout her life than she ever spent in her passport country of South Korea. Growing up, she lived in six different countries on three different continents. She looks back and feels that she has no sense of ‘home’ because of how little time she spent in her passport country. This is something many TCKs battle with as they grow up.
Despite the struggle, Kim has embraced her lifestyle too. She feels living in so many different cultures and places has given her an understanding of the world. She understands the world and herself, something that is worth celebrating.
Kim’s artistic practice sees many different sides to the Third Culture experience. She tries to create work that can relate to audiences universally, not just TCK audiences.
“Everyone, TCKs or not, has stories to share and we all have different backgrounds,” Kim says.
Family friend and self-proclaimed artist Susan Mousakhani and I spoke about this topic too. Mousakhani’s passport country is Iran, though she moved away at age four.
Mousakhani was globally mobile until she went back to Iran for university at age 21. She lived in eight different countries on three different continents. She studied art and design and talked to me about how a lot of the work centered around the body. Trying to symbolically show an understanding of “the world within us and the world around us.”
Understanding themselves through art
Alternatively, both Kim and Mousakhani have works that they created to consider the TCK lifestyle too. “Untitled,” an installation created by Kim, considers the mobility and nomadic identity of the TCK lifestyle. She tries to reflect constant movement giving her viewers a sense of uneasiness.
The goal of this piece was to feel unstable, and in turn make the viewers feel that way. This work helps her recognize all the qualities that humans share. Whether through emotion or experiences, she wants viewers from a non-TCK background to get more out of this particular work.
Everyone, TCKs or not, has stories to share and we all have different backgrounds.Grace Kim
Mousakhani also has works that center around her nomadic and fluid lifestyle. Over FaceTime she showed me one of her sketchbooks from her undergraduate career. Pages filled with images of the human body being pulled in all sorts of directions and hollow female figures.
Though these were just sketches, she gave me a look into how she battled with her identity. She felt a sense of loneliness and a lack of security because she didn’t know which place to call home. She felt she had never known home until she started her won family.
Both Kim and Mousakhani had similar lifestyles and ideas surrounding their TCK history. I think this is something interesting and important to consider when thinking about this topic.
These artists have never met but seem to share similar experiences. Art has given them the opportunity as global Nomads to find themselves through art.