Hee Sook Kim

Hee Sook Kim is currently Professor of Fine Arts at Haverford College in Philadelphia area. She is a nationally and internationally recognized artists showing her work in USA, Europe, and Asia since 1981 and receiving various awards. She has been represented by Causey Contemporary Gallery (New York) and Art Mora Gallery (New Jersey & Seoul, Korea).

Kim earned her MFA and BFA from Seoul National University and MA from New York University. She received her M.F.A and B.F.A.from Seoul National University and M.A. from New York University. She has received Fleisher Art Memorial Wind Challenge Award (Philadelphia), Special Prize Arte Lauguna (Venice), Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant (New York), Leeway Foundation Grant (Philadelphia), State Foundation of Culture and Arts Acquisition Award (Hilo, Hawaii), Honorary Mention in Encyclopedia of Living Artists, and Merit Award of Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts.

Her Solo Exhibitions include Galerie Böhner(Mannheim, Germany), Causey Contemporary (New York), Colorida Gallery (Lisbonm, Portugal), Black Box Gallery at Johnson State College (VT), Cantor-Fitzgerald Gallery at Haverford College (PA), Center for Contemporary Printmaking(Norwalk, CT), Youngeun Museum of Contemporary Art (Korea), Artside Gallery, Dam Gallery (Seoul, Korea), Chi Gallery (New York), Abbei Gallery (Cologne,Germany), Art Museum in University of New Mexico, Helene Center for the Visualarts (IA), Kansas City Artists Coalition (Kansas City), Tyler School of Art(Philadelphia), LaGuardia Gallery of Fine Arts (New York), Metrolex gallery(Lexington, KY), TMCC Main Gallery (Reno, NV), Bleecker Street Gallery(Carrboro, NC), Artsforum Gallery (New York), and Phillips Museum of Art, Franklin and MarshallCollege (Lancaster, PA), Marwick-Boyd Fine Arts Center (PA), Newspace Gallery(CT), Municipal Gallery (Atlanta, GA), Kwanhoon Art center (Seoul), Yoon Gallery (Seoul). She also has shown at Allens Lane Art Center(Philadelphia), Indianapolis Art Center, Lincoln Center (Colorado), and Museum of Natural Sciences (North Carolina). Her work appeared at exhibitions at Osaka City Museum, the Fukuoka Prefectural Museum and theDoyusha Gallery (Japan), Bronx Museum, the Drawing Center, Asian American Art Center, Bronx River Art Center, and the Queens Museum (New York), Walter Wickirser Gallery, Art Mora (New York), Korean Cultural Center (Washington DC).  Additionally, her work has been shown at National Museum of Modern Art (Korea), Seoul Art Cosmos Center (Korea), Taipei City Museum of Art (Taiwan), and Le Centre d'Estudis d'Art Centemporari (Barcelona,Spain), Galleria de Marchi (Bologna, Italy), and Ulft, Netherlands. 

She was invited as artist-in-residence at Venezia Fallani (Italy), Santa Fe Art Institute, Yongeun Museum (South Korea), Ascona Centro Incontri Umani (Switzerland), Collaborative Press (Los Angeles), Helene Wurlitzer Foundation (Taos, New Mexico), Brandywine Workshop (Philadelphia),Villa Montalvo (Saratoga, California), Millay Colony (New York) and Full Fellowship in the Vermont Studio Center (Vermont).  

Kim’s pieces are in many collections throughout the United States, Korea, Japan, and Taiwan and numerous reviews were published nationally and internationally including Philadelphia Inquirer, Artsy Curatorial, On Verge, Contemporary Art Curator, New York Arts Magazine, Truce Magazine, Korea Times, etc.


Hee Sook Kim has long demonstrated an affinity for hybrid identities; as a woman who grew up in Korea and who has taught for more than a decade at Haverford College in the suburbs of Philadelphia, she has internalized experience from two very different places and cultures. Kim has evolved a style that greets the ephemeral as well as the insights she gained as an artist working for more than a decade in New York.  Her work, with its decorative patterns and exquisite designs, invites her audience to view the traces of her long and varied journey as a Korean, an emigrant, and a woman. Using her sensibility with unusual skill, Kim attaches care and energy to her lyric compositions, conversational echoes that build a dialogue between cultures and their differing attitudes toward art.

Kim’s work is not only a delicate kind of poetry; she works out patterned abstract elements in her paintings. The imagery’s design is straightforwardly direct, forming contemporary abstractions that call attention to the historical legacy of Korean textiles as a ground for the artist’s meticulous presentation. Kim interweaves classical and modernist stances that is inspiring, leaving her viewers with a sense of interior calm and even joy taken from everyday life.  Kim’s interest in cultural history anchors images at home both in the past and the present. She salvages an ancient aesthetic, rendering its emotive memory alive and relevant within current artistic forms.  The ties that remain remind us that art can be powerful because it is, at least on one level, ahistorical—all at once Kim’s insights seem current and universal because they derive from historical specificities. She offers her audience the best of historical awareness, coupled with a remarkable feeling for contemporary issues and interest.  Kim has made it clear that she intends to return to Korean matters as a simple demonstration of her complex identity—an Asian artist in a Western world.

Kim places craft at the center of her art, a masterful combination of skill, thought, and emotion.  Kim experiments in an eclectic and international field of source materials.  Kim’s association with abstraction balances her aesthetic; her imagery engages in a supportive system of reference affecting both new and historical creativities. Metaphor lies at the root of innovation; the rhetorical play between image and eye draws connections powerfully new to audience. Kim offers the merger of styles that culminates in a synthesis lyrical in nature. We can call her manner of working a visual poetry that both acknowledges cultural bias and works to transcend that bias within her artistic explorations. 

By Jonathan Goodman (NY based critic)

Jonathan Goodman is a poet and art writer who is based in New York. He has been writing about Asian art for twenty years. Among his publications are reviews and essays in ARTnews, Art in America, Sculpture, and Yishu. He currently teaches at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn.


Email: clearjoykim@gmail.com

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