Life or Something Like It.

text & illustration: Korey Martin


text & illustration: Korey Martin
translation: Catherine Lealand

Looking out my window at the row of Chicago cottages, you’d never guess it snowed yesterday. Brushing my teeth, I glance in the other direction to find one of my drawings peeking at me from around the doorframe. It hangs there wondering if I will continue working on it or if it can finally settle into our apartment as another decoration amongst thrifted paintings and Jacques Tati posters.

Suspended in the twilight of our sun-deprived hallway, I spit out my toothpaste and glance once more at the drawing. Distinguishing headlight from scribble it comes into view – a pile of cars. Jayme, my baker-writer partner, calls it “Junkyard Impressionism”. She’s half-joking but it works somehow. My work can be messy, but art (or just about anything) is like a junkyard – one way to arrange a mess. The next time you sweep your floor, you might find something not unlike a Van Gogh – an arrangement of time and impressions of the ways you’ve passed it. So, painting a pond or scribbling a wrecked minivan is just a way to keep a mess around.

Isn’t “unfinished mess” the criticism which got Impressionism the name? Regardless, rather than attempting to define life, its messes are just one way to describe it. It leaves room for uncertainty, possibility – mystery. Since finishing my BFA (which took 12 years if I count the gap), I became curious about “casual mysteries”. I think of them as things that feel “strangely familiar”, like describing something without revealing what it is. What do you imagine if I describe something in my living room as “tired and fuzzy”?

My search for the strange-yet-familiar led me to City Lit (one of many great Chicago bookstores like Myopic or Quimby’s) where I found a collection of Shirley Jackson’s short stories. In this collection, she depicts the everyday as vastly mysterious, but no less mundane. Each story emphasizes a reality where nothing is absolute, and much more than you could ever imagine. In her world, and ours, mysteries (sometimes sinister, sometimes boring) are a spectacularly unremarkable fact of life.

Then what about this Junkyard Impressionism? The scribble is a headlight…or is it? Like Jackson, I’m curious about the line where knowns meet mysteries – the horizon in an Impressionist painting articulating common things with light and shadow. Covered scooters, lost grocery lists, drawings you find in old books – they’re recognizable but you can’t help but ask “Where did this come from?” Well, somewhere obviously, and it’s that inaccessible intimacy hidden in the open that I find interesting.

I hope to somehow emulate that sense of having emerged from somewhere (living) in my work. In the least, seeing my drawings alongside our soaps and kitty litter reminds me that ultimately, no matter the ideas pressed inside, they’re meant for living with, just like that tired fuzzy chair.


Korey Martin

1989年、テネシー州生まれ。シカゴ在住のアーティスト。その印象的な走り書きのようなドローイングは、最近では「The Quarantine Times」「Actual Source Books」に掲載されている。「POPEYE」の2020年11月号に掲載された卵料理企画のページにも、素敵な作品を寄せてくれた。