Lauren Hana Chai was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii being the first of her family to be born in the United States. Raised by her grandparents who are from South Korea, she grew up with dual cultures: Very traditional with a Korean lifestyle at home, while at the same time being immersed in the western world outside. In 2010, Lauren moved to San Francisco to attend the Academy of Art University and graduated in 2015 with her BFA in painting.
Lauren uses unconventional mediums with mixed media as well as working with her first love, oils. The mixed media brings together different elements which is a reflection of her identity. She paints issues such as taboo, the Korean cultural trait han, history, the clash of traditional and modern, east and west, and the struggle for balance in between.
Chai on her North Korea related work:
"As I grew older and became more interested in my Korean background, learning about North Korea started to become somewhat of a fascinating and heartbreaking obsession for me. I later found out that my grandmother was separated from her own brother during the divide and they were never able to see or hear each other again. It is so painful for her that she can't even tell me the story herself, I had to hear about it from another family member, and I could not have the heart to ask her about it. As a visual artist, images of North Korea and it's people--our people--really turned my stomach and naturally I wanted to paint them. As an American and a Korean, I want to shed more light on the issues of North Korea not just as a secluded "Hermit Kingdom" but as a part of the rest of the world, especially with current events today show, the actions of one can affect many."