What does it mean to survive?

What does it mean
to survive?

Since 2009, artist Yong Joo Kim has dedicated her practice to exploring this seemingly simple yet complex question.

She is also known around the world as a pioneer in the use of hook-and-loop fasteners as material for fine art.

Yong Joo Kim is a classically trained metalsmith. However, her current body of work began to take shape in 2009 when she chose to limit herself to the use of hook-and-loop fasteners instead of metals as her primary material of fabrication.

The choice was originally born out of financial necessity and an attraction toward the new material. However, she soon became aware of her deep-seated belief that her responsibility as an artist is to continuously create new and beautiful works of art no matter the hurdles she faced. In fact, she believed that her failure to achieve such a feat would be akin to her death as an artist. Once she realized that such pressure and weight fueled her creative process she realized that the practice of making art, to her, is synonymous with survival. Thus began her line of inquiry into the meaning of survival.

After becoming aware of the pressure and weight that fueled her, she also decided to not only feel the pressure and weight but also transfer it to her materials. By letting go of any forethought on what the shape of her art work should be and merely applying pressure and weight to her materials, she was able to discover and create an unexpected and new body of work that, despite being made from artificial materials, seems to embody the kind of beauty, strength, and vitality often found in nature among the oceans, volcanos, or grand canyons.

Reflecting on the shape of her new body of work, she fully accepted that making art, for her, is less a means of expression and more a residue of her efforts to survive under pressure and weight. She also found much comfort in seeing that it was no different than how some of the most beautiful and awe-inspiring mountains and valleys are  residues of nature under pressure and weight. 

Most Recent Solo Exhibition Interview

Who is
Yong Joo Kim?

Yong Joo Kim’s practice is characterized by her ongoing exploration of the aesthetic potential of hook-and-loop fasteners as well as her formidable capacity to create beauty under pressure and weight.

Under her own self-imposed judgment that she must become a master craftsperson to be an artist worthy of recognition, Yong Joo Kim limits herself to one primary material as would a traditional craftsperson. However, her chosen material is a mass-produced artifact known as a hook-and-loop fastener: not the kind that a traditional craftsperson would accept. It is in this space of conflict and contradiction that Yong Joo Kim’s work invites us to contemplate our own self-imposed judgments not as a way to self-criticize, but as a way to leverage it as a means for creativity and innovation.

A native of Seoul, Korea, Yong Joo Kim has held 8 solo exhibitions and 90+ group exhibitions across North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia.

She received her:

  • MFA in Jewelry and Metalsmithing from the Rhode Island School of Design.
  • BFA in Arts and Crafts from Sook Myung Women’s University.

In addition to her artwork, she strives to describe the creative process in easy-to-understand metaphors more accessible to non-artists.

She has been invited as a featured speaker at premier conferences and exhibitions such as:

  • Sculpture Objects Functional Art and design (SOFA) / Artist as a Miner of Beauty 
  • The Society of North American Goldsmiths (SNAG) / Survival, Variety, and Mastery 
  • Munich International Jewelry Show (Inhorgenta) / Artist as a Master of Surprise 

Her work has received various awards such as:

  1. 2014 Society of Arts and Crafts (SAC) Artist Award Winning Artist.  
  2. 2015 The 9th Cheongju International Craft Biennale Competition Special Citation Prize.
  3. 2016 Top 35 contemporary jewellers Juried by Mari Funaki gallery in Australia. 
  4. 2013 Top 25 most talented young artists under 33 in 2013 by TALENT in Germany.
  5. 2012 NICHE Award: Winner in Jewelry (Sculpture to Wear) Sponsored by NICHE magazine in U.S. 
  6. 2011 Adrianna Farrelli Prize for Excellence in Fiber, Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft show.  

Her work appears in the permanent collection of:

  1. Museum of Arts and Design (MAD)
  2. Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A)
  3. Art Gallery of South Australia (AGSA)
  4. Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)
  5. National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art’s Art Bank (MMCA)
  6. Seoul Museum of Craft Art
  7. Pureun Cultural Foundation
  8. Velcro Group. 
Fine Art