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  • A.D. Herzel


“One of the basic rules of the universe is that nothing is perfect. Perfection simply doesn’t exist… Without imperfection, neither you nor I would exist.” — Stephen J. Hawking

Abstraction, metaphors, and visual symbols are the tools I use to both understand the world and articulate that understanding. Informed by patterns found in nature, my visual vocabulary has developed over the years. It is natural that Abstraction may be difficult for viewers to relate to. Viewers often do not have a reference for an artist’s unique visual language. When viewing abstract work, one is often attempting to read a foreign language—a unique visual language that needs translating and one that requires time.


Early on in my work I imagined identity, not as a visual representation, but rather as a lived experience. Being a Korean-American adoptee often means being initially perceived within a limited understanding of my race. I think that many minorities in the United States can relate to this experience.

What do you see, when you see me? Never just a woman, but always an Asian woman, and with that whatever you, the viewer, have discovered, understood, or assumed an Asian woman to be.

Self-representation is always more complex than a face in the mirror. I am a mix of the diverse white cultures I was raised in and the experiences I have encountered throughout the course of my life.

Being an imported American and raised in a transracial family within a predominantly white Western society has played a key role in how I define myself in relation to society.

Like many minorities, many of my choices are filtered through my understanding of the predominant culture and how that culture perceives me. Yet the problem of defining my own culture becomes a necessary and unique challenge.

Interracial adoptees often cannot find racial or ethnic identity with their white Western family. Some may choose to see themselves as defined by their adopted family’s culture, or they can look to their country of origin as a home base affirming their racial identity. I have learned that culture is much more fluid and subtle than that.

As an artist, I have always felt the need to explore all the possibilities, and then create my own way, and my work reflects this practice. My art has always been my cipher and my solace. And so, my self-portrait represents an amalgam of experiences and stories embodied by ornamental organisms, clustered together like coral around what once was a flower.

Peacock Poppycock

When we are most daring, when we feel our true selves we are covered in pomp and the feathers of our accomplishments.

Peacock Poppycock, 24 x 36 Graphite & Collage on Clay Board, co. 2014


Women and artists are both seen and judged by the public eye. Sometimes harsh, sometimes loving, and sometimes predatory, yet we put ourselves on the wall because to be seen is the first step into the arena.

Wallflower, 12 x 12, graphite on Clay Board, co. 2013

Alien in an Easter Bonnet

Taken from my first Easter photo in the United States, this silhouette begins the reshaping of my story. Like a cute little “doll” or a “charity trophy,” I was a prop in my adopted mother’s story.

Alien in an Easter Bonnet, 12 x 12, graphite on Clay Board, co. 2020

The moth upon seeing her reflection in the lamplight

After having children of my own and tending to the multitude of transformations that motherhood demanded I wondered and questioned the pursuit of my desires. Would the changes be beautiful or disastrous? What had I become?

The moth upon seeing her reflection in the lamplight, 18 x 18 Graphite, gold ink and sgraffito, co. 2015

A.D. Herzel is an Asian-American artist and writer who has shared her work nationally and internationally. You may learn more about her and her work by following her on social media and visiting her website.


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