Debra Yepa-Pappan is a Korean and Jemez Pueblo artist who utilizes digital imagery to visually share her story about being mixed race. Her earlier works consisted of traditional photography and examined issues of racial stereotypes. This path has led Debra to an in depth examination of her own identity, and ultimately conveying her pride in her Korean and Jemez Pueblo cultures through her art. She points out the similarities within her 2 cultures by incorporating symbolic imagery found in both, while keeping a contemporary and pop art aesthetic.
In her current series of work as well as with her Mockups, “Pas De Deux,” Debra focuses on her daughter Ji Hae and her love of dance. The central image of Ji Hae in her traditional manta is juxtaposed with motifs derived from origami paper, such as the butterfly and dragonfly, that have significance in both Asian and Native (Pueblo) cultures. She also incorporates images of the mugunghwa, the Korean national flower, and a Korean folk image of the tiger, both of which are popular specifically in Korean culture. In creating her Mockups, Debra used acrylic paint and digital prints that were intricately cut out, then assembled onto the shoes. She then embellished the images with glitter.
Debra currently lives in her hometown of Chicago with her husband, artist Chris Pappan, and their 10 year old daughter, Ji Hae Yepa-Pappan.