Cory Feder’s beautiful and expressive illustrations are born out of feelings of otherness
The Santa Fe-based illustrator explains how she combines the day-to-day with the divine in her thoughtful practice.
- Jyni Ong
- 20 January 2021
- Reading Time
- 3 minute read
As a multiracial kid growing up in a predominantly white community in Denver, Colorado, Cory Feder found solace in the endlessness of her imagination. “Most spaces I frequented outside of my home highlighted my ‘otherness’,” she tells us. “I was extremely confused and many times, ashamed of my identity.” Cory’s imagination provided a nurturing safe space where she was freely accepted and in turn, an uncompromising creativity was born out of it. Cory’s creativity started to express itself through drawing, which quickly became sacred to the illustrator, because “it carved the first doorway to acknowledging otherness beyond what I could see with my eyes.”
Over time, drawing has continued to be Cory’s most reliable vehicle for communication and expression. She counts herself as “extremely blessed” that her parents supported her creative aspirations from a young age, taking her to art classes on the weekend which led to her attending art school after high school. There, she expanded her artistic horizons further, experimenting with new mediums from clay to printmaking. This allowed Cory to further understand her practice, helping her to find a physical outlet for internal landscapes that she had harboured for so long.
With time, the illustrator was able to find the right form for her imaginative works. Her work is imbued with symbolic language representing both sides of her ancestry and in this way, Cory understands her work “does not belong to me alone.” Exploring the crossroads between the everyday and the divine, she peppers her ethereal work with symbols representing mundane modern experiences. She then mixes these symbols with imagery that her ancestors have held dear for generations. Together, this results in Cory’s colourful works overlapping the past and present. In her words, the illustrator thinks of her output as “a meeting space where the messages left unsaid in the past can be delivered to the future”.
With this in mind, it’s no surprise that Cory finds inspiration in devotional practices. Temples, churches and mosques have played an important part in her practice thus far, but more recently, she is particularly intrigued as to how devotion naturally finds its way into spaces around her. “I’ve learned a lot this year about what devotion looks like when it’s carried into every activity throughout the day,” she says.
One of the ways she appreciates this is by taking photographs on walks, a fundamental aspect of her creative process. Photography allows Cory to sit with the image longer and to process why she was drawn to it in the first place. As well as photography, recently the illustrator has also made a comic. Titled I am Famous on CCTV, the comic made earlier this year relays Cory’s time in Korea during a trip to further understand her ancestry. The story is told through the lens of a legendary goblin known as dokkaebi who, according to legend, loved loud noises and cities. Cory found this mythological character fascinating, an ancient creature thriving in modern Seoul; two time periods clashing just like in her practice.
While she was there, Cory took up a role teaching English, which “presented many challenged to my morals while I was there,” she says. “Understanding the present-day Korea through the lens of their work culture was incredibly challenging and informative, so I wanted the story to unfold through this magical being attempting to understand the dynamics of the every day.” The story took six months to finalise as well as another two months to complete production. For Cory, around 70 per cent of a project involves its development, thinking about how the story will unfold and finding a meaningful relationship with the characters and narrative. Then, by the time it comes to making the work, the purpose has been cemented and the rest of the production process flows freely.
As well as a visual artist, Cory is also a musician. She’s planning to release a new album with a few music videos also created by her. A harpist who goes by her Korean name Yesol, the next year promises to be a productive and fruitful one for the illustrator-come-musician. On top of her musical projects she is also planning to exhibit a solo show at The Valley in Taos in May and plans to extend her visual practice to sculptural and paintings too.
GalleryCopyright © Cory Feder, 2021
Copyright © Cory Feder, 2021
About the Author
Jyni became a staff writer in March 2019 having previously joined the team as an editorial assistant in August 2018. She graduated from The Glasgow School of Art with a degree in Communication Design in 2017 and her previous roles include Glasgow Women’s Library designer in residence and The Glasgow School of Art’s Graduate Illustrator.