Cover of Dear 할머니 project detailing an illustration of two people sitting on a bench in the countryside with two dogs.
Art Installations Narrative/storytelling

Dear 할머니

Dear 할머니 is a letter to my grandma in the form of a video sculpture. It includes digital animations projected onto a layered shadowbox, with the letter narrated by me.


Jinny Kang


Simone Salvo


Have you ever reconnected with the people from whom you drifted apart? My grandma and I were inseparable until I moved to the US from Korea at the age of 7. When she moved in with my parents years later, I was already leaving home for college and haven’t lived home since. The relationship was and has been a challenge to rekindle. Having lived apart for so long in different cultures and continents, language and technological barriers made me hesitant to share my thoughts, emotions, and even my work with my grandma. In my search for an answer, I realized I’ve always expressed myself through letters to communicate what I couldn't say verbally. Dear 할머니 is exactly that: a letter I can share with my grandma full of my passions, dreams, and worries in the form of a video sculpture. The process of creating Dear 할머니 has been healing for me. I was able to fill in that missing gap and reconnect with someone I love and care deeply for.

Cover of Dear 할머니 project detailing an illustration of two people sitting on a bench in the countryside with two dogs.


In my early research, I sought out more quantifiable resources such as studies conducted on intergenerational relationships (Communication Media Use in Grandparent-Grandchild Relationship), relationships made by choice vs relationships inherited by blood/birth (Family & Friends: Which Types of Personal Relationships Go Together in a Network?), and generalized stereotypes and ageism in the US (Generalized stereotypes / ageism (Stereotypes about very old people and perceived societal appreciation in very old age). In parallel to the analytical approach, I looked further into effective narrative telling and the different forms it could take through games such as Gone Home, That Dragon, Cancer, and Before Your Eyes; films with linear narratives such as Everything Everywhere All At Once, The Farewell, Minari, Miss Granny, and The Way Home; books such as Nobody Will Tell You This But Me, Crying In HMart, and Pachinko; and artists like Ocean Vuong, CHarlie Tyrell, and Isadora Romero. As I progressed, I conducted a personal exploration by digging deeper into the manifestation of fear and worry I had coming into this all. I went through my archives including voice memos and photographs to lay out more of my relationship with my grandma. Additionally, I started writing as an exercise in physicalizing my thought processes. I wrote about the worry and fear in my relationship with my grandma as well as other thoughts pertaining to my connection with her. In my writing, food and hobbies were topics that I was able to connect with my grandma on a surface level in which transitioned into deeper conversations that were often challenging to talk about.

Technical Details

The work is intended to be viewed from the bottom to the top. My dog, Petunia, and my grandma’s, Kiwi, are used as vehicles to drive the narrative forward, going through 4 animated scenes: 1 Busan, Korea 1940s, 2 Seoul, Korea 2002, 3 Richmond, VA 2022, and 4 an imagined future.

Closeup details of the paper layered shadowbox sculpture.Snapshot of animations of scenes 1 and 3.Documentation of scene 4 projected onto layered shadowbox.