Jeff Pak’s mural of a pink tiger in Andersonville speaks to his Korean heritage (and creating cool art)
And the tiger speaks Korean — at least enough to call out “야” to passersby. That’s Korean for ‘Hey!’ He says that’s a joke aimed at his mother about how often she yells at him.
The pink creature — it’s actually a tiger — is shown uttering “야” in a text bubble. That’s Korean for “Hey!”
Pak, 34, says that’s a joke aimed at his mother about how often she yells at him.
“It’s a loud representation of a Korean American person,” Pak says.
Pak was born in Chicago. His parents are from South Korea. He says he meant for the mural to pay homage to his Korean heritage. Tigers are often found in stories of Korean folklore and history.
Pak says that, at one point, he “didn’t really care” about representing that culture artistically. But he noticed how little Korean art can be found at museums.
“A lot of Korean art history has been lost,” he says. “It’s either been destroyed, stolen, or there’s no real history of it.”
Pak, who also goes by “JPAK,” says, “Now, I understand it is something I should take into more consideration because it is part of who I am regardless of if I think it is or not.”
But creating art for pure aesthetic pleasure is still his main motivation.
“I’m just trying to make really dope and weird stuff,” says Pak, who completed the mural in a single day. “That’s what brings me joy.”
And so did trying to impress fellow muralist Rubén Aguirre, who also painted along the same viaduct as part of a beautification project curated by artist Justus Roe and supported by Ald. Andre Vasquez (40th).
Pak’s mural, which is about seven feet across and six feet high, started with a sketch that Aguirre says he saw and liked.
“When I saw it in a pencil format, it was just way more elaborate and detailed than anything else I’ve seen him draw,” says Aguirre, 43. “It caught my eye.”
Why pink? It’s Pak’s favorite color. Also, he says, “I just want to make sure that you can never ignore the stuff I make.”
Chicago’s murals & mosaics
Part of a series on public art. More murals added every week.