Sensory Evolution: Shaping Art and Society, NYC-based Artist Doi Kim

Doi Kim (b. 1995 Seoul, South Korea) is an artist based in New York City, USA, and Seoul, South Korea. She holds a BFA in Fine Arts from the Korea National University of Arts in Seoul, South Korea, and an MFA from the School of Visual Arts in New York, USA. As an exchange student, she studied printmaking at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague for a year in 2017.

Through her work, she leaves socio-political commentary through the world that metaphorically indicates various elements of the contemporary landscape utilizing the speculative world of anthropomorphic creatures. Her artistic practice aims to emancipate ourselves from the dominant narrative to highlight imaginative possibilities that reside within each individual. She has curated a screening event, As the light disperses into the Eyes (2022), PCV A, and her two solo exhibitions, CE 20XX I (2022), space xx, Seoul, South Korea, and Velvet (2023), ChaShaMa Space, Manhattan, New York.

Her works have been shown in group shows at Project V Gallery, New York, NY; the 2022 Screenprint Biennial at Opalka Gallery, Albany, NY and Mirabo Press Gallery, Buffalo, NY; the 2022 Extreme Pressure Biennial of American Prints Exhibition, College of Central Florida, Webber Gallery, Ocala, FL; Susquehanna Art Museum, Harrisburg, PA; Manhattan graphics center, New York, NY; Untitled Art Miami Beach, Miami, FL; Starta Arta, New York, NY; Stone leaf Retreat, Eddyville, NY; SVA Gallery; Rear Window Gallery, Hangzhou, China; Ethan Cohen KUBE, Beacon, NY; Gallery AVU, Prague, Czech Republic; Šaloun Villa, Prague, Czech Republic. She received the Outstanding Achievement Award from the 2022 Tripvill International Film Festival. She became a member of the Society of American Graphic Artists in 2023.

The Fifth Child 4, 2020, colored pencil on lithograph, 30 x 22 in, variable edition of 6 + 1 AP

Thank you for joining us, Doi. Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Hi! Thank you for having me. I am an artist and printmaker based in New York City and Seoul. In my childhood, I enjoyed reading books, but drawing wasn’t my favorite. It wasn’t until my high school therapist suggested art therapy that I became genuinely interested in drawing and art making. I have lived and traveled in many countries since 2014, including Prague, Czech Republic. My art and worldview have been greatly influenced by these experiences. To pursue an MFA at SVA, I moved to New York in 2018. In addition to my artist career, I have worked in printmaking workshops such as Harlan & Weaver and Ribuoli Digital. Currently, I work as an assistant chromist at Brand X Editions.

Landscape: Lens 1, 2019, silkscreen on mirror, 12-inch diameter, edition of 27 + 3 AP + 1 PP

What ideas are you exploring in your practice? Is there a specific topic or theme that you are interested in?

Essentially, I’m exploring sensuous experiences that bring material imagination and aesthetic experience. Inspired by the dramatic natural landscapes in South America in 2015, I contemplated how subjective, abstract, but intense experience affects and changes individuals’ psychological and even physical landscapes. My idea was later articulated through research into the anatomy of sensory organs that enable such intense experiences. This led to more extensive research into human anatomy and characteristics, as well as those of animals and plants. Combining the idea of material imagination with my research, observing how our cellular and perceptual states interact and change according to the outside world has become a primary concept constituting my art practice. Later, this idea evolved into art projects exploring how physical bodies and psychological states are affected by their surroundings and undergo transformations based on sensual and personal experiences. I eventually expanded it into a social context, creating virtual worlds as a metaphor for the contemporary landscape. For now, based on the belief that our perceptive state is fluid and changeable, I am interested in emancipating individuals from the dominant narrative of society by creating a speculative space for contemplating social reality through my art practice.

Landscape (2016~) installation

Do you have a mentor or piece of advice that inspired you as a creative?

My mentors are the artists and philosophers whose work I admire. As for the artists, Tacita Dean, Liam Gillick and, especially, William Kentridge, who introduced me to printmaking, are some. I usually learn from artists who have developed their art practice for a long time. Philosophers such as Gaston Bachelard, Jacques Ranciere and Judith Butler heavily influenced me to articulate my art practice. Also, some advice from professors at Korea National University of Arts helped me consolidate the values I want to pursue as an artist. One of my favorite quotes from them is: “Do not make work for the demand of the trend or reputation. Make work that tells the message that society needs at that point of the time.”

Image still from The Hound of the Baskervilles (2022), 2018~2022, video, 4 minutes 2 seconds

What does “community” mean to you? How do you see yourself in a community?

Community inspires me a lot. As a printmaker, I work in a collaborative environment. It has made me appreciate the community and its altruistic qualities. However, as an immigrant artist living in New York City, being an outsider allows me to see and analyze the emotional or practical factors that drive the social community objectively. I am able to observe both the strengths and weaknesses of the community, both from within and outside. This led me to create work that reflected my understanding of community dynamics, such as the series of Pearls (2021~2023). 

Landscape: Lens 3, 2020, silkscreen on mirror, 12-inch diameter, edition of 27 + 3 AP + 1 PP

What are you working on right now?

I am currently working on the Pearls series (2021~2023), consisting of 12 large scale silkscreen prints reworked with painting medium. This series is something I conceived at the height of the pandemic based on my experience as an Asian woman living in the States. Pearls, in a nutshell, embody self or identity with biological and organic images reminiscent of biology textbooks. Using the pearl formation process, I created imaginary pearl creatures. I used them as a metaphor for an identity constructed in an environment of diverse collisions like New York, where individuals with diverse backgrounds gather. My work also provides insight into the immune response society operates in response to heterogeneous individuals. I can say, therefore, this ongoing project examines how our social reality shapes our contemporary existence. 

Pearls: Secondary Structure 3, 2021~2023, acrylic, colored pencil and silkscreen on Somerset Satin paper, 36 x 30 in
Pearls: Primary Structure 2, 2021~2023, acrylic, colored pencil and silkscreen on Somerset Satin paper, 36 x 30 in

Is there any advice that you would offer to others?

I would like to share another quote from the professor at K’ARTS: “It is natural that some meaningful ideas should be pondered deeply for a long period of time.”

Hanging garden 2, archival pen on paper, 6×8 in

text & photo courtesy of Doi Kim

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