12 FOR OUR 12TH
by Marcia Santore
Paper folded into curvilinear shapes bordering on the impossible; paper structures balanced between Escher and exquisite architectural models. Jong-Yoon Kim’s sculpture leaves viewers entranced and wondering.
Originally from Korea, Kim earned a BFA in ceramic art from Hongik University in Seoul. “My big topic was time — working with a traditional Korean geometric pattern meaning Eternity. I felt the lack of communication with viewers because most of my ceramic installation works were very symbolic and conceptual,” he recalled.
He began looking for different visual tools that would enable him to communicate more directly with viewers. “I came to the U.S. to study in a new environment 20 years ago.” He earned an MFA in graphic design from Indiana University. Today Kim is associate professor of graphic design at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire, where his work was shown this winter in a solo exhibition at the Silver Center for the Arts, sponsored by the Museum of the White Mountains.
“I used to be a potter and a ceramic sculptor dealing with three dimensional objects and space.” Kim said. “Now as a graphic designer, two-dimensional works on either a paper or a screen have been my main media. I have found myself hanging on the border of two dimensions and three dimensions, and come away with several questions: What is the relationship between two dimensions and three dimensions? Which elements make us perceive forms as three-dimensional? What is the function of light?”
Kim’s interest in paper as a medium grew out of bookbinding. “As a bookbinder and book artist, my main medium was paper and I was fascinated by various formats of pop-up books,” he said. He began using pop-up paper folding techniques to create structures. A primary challenge of working with paper is durability. Kim is always looking for different types and weights of paper, each with its own qualities of flexibility and transparency. These can then be paired with other media, such as wood, acrylic and LED lights.
Light is important in Kim’s latest work. Some of the folded paper pieces contain LED lights that subtly shift colors. The architectural works, mounted on rough wood, incorporate shadows to amplify the ambivalence of the space. His plans include larger installation works using various light sources. “My goal is not only displaying my works in a public space but also experiencing my works as part of the viewers’ space,” he said. “I want viewers to see the possibilities of my works as a part of their daily life, to apply my works on different environments (with various light sources) physically or virtually to create a new atmosphere.”