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July | 2015 | The Birdsell Project

Interview with Artist-in-Residence: Andrew Strong

By Leah Gallant

andrewAndrew laying out sugar on the floor of his installation space at the Commerce Center.


How did you get involved with the Birdsell Project?

I went to Whitman College with Nalani Stolz, one of the co-organizers. After she moved back to South Bend and connected with this developer to start the project, she called me up and invited me to install work in the first show, which opened in December 2014 in the Birdsell Mansion, as well as help with some of the logistical aspects of the project. In January, I started working with the project to conceptualize and implement the artist residency program.

How did you become interested in working with cartography and space as the primary focuses in your art?

I studied environmental studies in college, and it’s conceptually connected to that— I took a lot of classes that were analyzing social situations and interactions with nature and landscapes. I was always attracted to the maps in books that I was reading, as well as the diagrams, of people and transportation systems. I also have this inherent attraction to that sort of imagery. When I was little I collected atlases—that was what I would ask for every Christmas.

andrew cartographies
Andrew Strong, New and Altered Cartographies


What’s your favorite project that you’ve done?

The piece I’m most proud of is probably ‘New and Altered Cartographies,’ in which I explored concepts of mapmaking. As part of the project I took state road maps and cut out everything except for the roads and highway systems, so I cut out all the spaces in between. I was left with these giant networks of roads that floated on their own, kind of like spider webs, and then I used that as my material to sculpt with. It was a funny process because it required a lot of patience—over the course of three or four months I just really dedicated myself to that task of cutting up the maps, and it wasn’t until the last one or two weeks where the structure really came together. It also had this conceptual integrity, because it included two videos that looked at micro to macro levels of map making, but all of the maps were then altered in these different ways, and I think the three pieces worked really nicely together. One of the videos is an exploration through Google Earth. During its early stages of Google Earth, Google was creating three dimensional models on top of their satellite images. At the beginning of every technological advancement there are these glitches and things that need to work through, and so I was kind of exploring this pre-refined landscape. It ended up having a lot of similarities with the sculpture, which was in front of the videos. The other video was of this small bug walking along a computer cord, and I thought that this was so funny that of all the places he chose to walk, he chose to walk along this structure that had been laid out before him. I followed him for about twenty minutes.

It seems like some of your work uses personal maps as a beginning point, such as ‘Line’ and ‘Map of current clothing,’ whereas others are less about you and your self. 

It’s often easier to just work from yourself and from your own experiences than it is to catalogue data and try to compile that into some sort of map that is interesting because there’s so many other factors that go into that. When you’re focusing on yourself, the scope becomes a lot narrower. So it’s easier because you don’t have as many factors going on. That being said, I would love to eventually move into the kind of work where I’m incorporating a lot of data that I’m pulling from different places.


andrew map
Andrew Strong, Map of Current Clothing


I’m drawn to the more performative elements of some of your pieces, such as ‘Line’, where you traced your route over the course of a day in tape. You document it through video, but it’s also interesting as an experiential or performance-based piece. How do you think about bringing in other ways of making to the production of art objects or videos that can be shown in a formal gallery space? 

I think for the most part my work is much more about the production experience than it is about the end result. There is a general aesthetic that I’m working towards that’s informed by artists I admire that are doing work that’s clean and minimal, but that is produced by a specific action or task. An example of this was my piece, ‘Winter Collection,’ for the show at the South Bend Museum of Art whose focus was the city of South Bend. I had been living here during the winter months, and it was the first time I had ever lived somewhere snowy. It’s a pretty incredibly snowy place during the winter, and I didn’t have a car or any form of transportation, so I would walk everywhere through these huge snow drifts. It slowed down the experience of moving through space, and I think that’s something I’m really aware of, and something that a lot of my work turns to. So I was collecting these objects that I would find in the snow drifts, and the piece itself was the experience, but the end result was a sculpture that went into the show that cataloged these objects that I found.

Who are some of your influences?

Artists like Maya Lin, or Nina Katchadourian, although Nina Katchadourian’s work is pretty simple because she uses very fine materials and also restricts her material choice. Her artwork is also very much about the process of making.


andrew erosion
Andrew Strong’s installation at the Birdsell Mansion, Erosion and Excavation

What are your plans for your space at the Commerce Center?

I had a few different plans but the idea I’m moving forward with now centers around the texture of flour and sugar. What I’ve been doing is laying them out on the ground of my spaces, which form perfect circles, and using them to highlight the texture of the floor and build a topography. It’s a little bit about the material, but it’s primarily about the aesthetic. I really want something clean and simple because these are such dramatic spaces that I’m working in–they’re tall and dark and confined. But there’s also something very calming about being in them, and so I’m playing with those two things.

Say you had $50,000 and a year to spend on a project. What would you do?

I think I would travel to various cities I’ve never been to around the world, and find some interesting way to catalogue their layout that’s different from the way that we see their layout in online maps or books. I would probably just spend the time experiencing the place and wandering the city and observing it, and maybe do some performative art in those cities. It’s funny actually, performance art, because it’s not something that I’m totally comfortable with, I think that it’s something that has happened as a result of my interest in producing work that’s experience based, but it’s very challenging to me. I like working with people but I think that art is also a very insular process, and it takes a lot of time to think through an idea, and so just doing something and putting the process out there is a daunting task. But I also find it to be rewarding.


For more of Andrew’s work, go to his website at http://www.andrewstrong.net/ .

Photo credit: Andrew Strong, Leah Gallant

By Leah Gallant

Hunter in the men’s locker room, his installation space at the Commerce Center.


In an earlier conversation you said something along the lines of, “I look at some relationships and object relationships through a lens of sex and sexuality.” There are a few objects, gestures, and materials that you work with a lot, including plungers, wrapped canvas paintings, and dog toys. What do plungers signify in your work, and how did you first start using them?

That’s kind of tricky, because at first I wanted to make something kind of pop, like an overgrown plunger. I wanted to make a thing that looked like a plunger, but used materials that would never be associated with one, and was too big for use. I wanted it to signify other things too, so I called it ‘Rose,’ and it kind of looks like a flower. I’m also interested, when it comes to reading sex and sexuality through objects, in the plunger as a domestic object that could be used for multiple purposes. For example, if a plunger sucks shit out of a toilet, what else can it suck? I’m using the art object to trace through a multiplicity of significations. This piece, through material and title, implies a kind of inside-out orientation of the body, a reversal, an insides pushed and forced out through a certain collapse. That kind of motion is similar to what happens in a toilet when it gets clogged. So I’m interested in what happens when the body gets turned inside out, when we see what’s not normally seen. And that might instill fear, shame, desire, pleasure, all of these things that are contradictory and unknowable. But that abject-ness is only signified in my work, it’s not represented.



Hunter Foster, Rose



Would you say these objects and images function as symbols?

No, they’re not symbols, they’re objects that signify. They’re objects that have a firm material presence in the world and the way the body approaches them. But in that encounter it also conjures up relationships between the body and the object and different objects and other bodies, that are both physical and textual. Their meanings bounce back and forth. Symbols work differently for me than that, their meaning seems more singular.

Your titles carry a lot of the meaning in the gap between the title and how the art object appears or what it’s made out of. 

I’m interested in how you used the word ‘gap.’ I use the title to cross and bridge a certain gap in relationship to the art object, but also to widen and complicate it. I usually want titles to point to an opposite direction than the work. I want to disrupt any kind of context the objects could be in to complicate any desire that the viewer might have in trying to connect a piece to a narrative. It also has a lot to do with fragmentation, which I think is pretty fundamental to how I find myself in relationship to a queer subjectivity. A drawing called ‘Bouquet’ that is shown with the rose piece, for example, is a drawing of a dog with a therapy cone, which itself is covered in drawings of roses. When I have an installation of separate works, I usually try to bridge connections between the works through titles. So the rose sculpture could point back to the dog drawing, and that could point back to that sculpture and then the other sculptures on the floor, which are called ‘Bulbs,’ and which is made out of actual plungers. I’m planting the viewers in this installation of objects, and there’s a cross-firing of signals going on all around them through the titles and materials.


Hunter Foster, Bouquet



How much do you want or expect the viewer to take away from the layers of meaning in your work?

Sometimes I have no idea. But I do hope that they will get a sense of a life and a sexuality and a gender that is very embodied and laden with desire, but that’s very complicated. The identity of the subject of the work isn’t stable, it’s precarious.

You mentioned that some of your influences include feminist fiber artists as well as more contemporary queer artists.  I read a lot of second wave feminist art as having a very explicit meaning—artists like Judy Chicago want the viewer to take away certain statements about sexuality, gender, and patriarchy. When I think of Robert Gober and Jim Hodges, it does seem like there’s a queer aesthetic that’s carried through certain motions, like making flower chains, or remaking household objects like sinks out of some other material, but their work is much less didactic—there’s a pretty big difference in terms of opening vs. closing questions, of making statements vs. more ambiguous gestures. What do you take from each of those art historical groupings?

It’s kind of all about context, right, Robert Gober probably wouldn’t have made that same work in the sixties and the seventies that he was making in the nineties. To annotate your question a little bit, I think I’m generally more influenced by the craft and fiber movement than I am specifically by second wave feminist art, although I am very influenced by body art and performance art in terms of centering the gendered body as political. In terms of the craft movement and the fiber movement, I’m interested in materials that are gendered and systematically devalued. And I’m interested in the historical moment of the fight they had to do, which is of course related to women’s labor, domestic labor, and reproductive labor. But I’m also interested in a different art historical vein that could be thought of as in the closet—Agnes Martin, Ellsworth Kelley, and others who made abstract and silent works but whose subjectivities aren’t often encouraged to be interpreted through the work. I’m interested in the idea that reading into a work like that is projecting and is not art historically valid. In their recent art historical work on queer abstraction, David Getsy and Jennifer Doyle say that positions the inside of the works as something that we don’t have access to.



Hunter Foster, Bulbs


What are your plans for your space at the Commerce Center, where you’re installing work in an abandoned men’s’ locker room?

I’m thinking about the architecture and design disparities between the men’s locker room and the women’s locker room. I’m working in what used to be an athletic club that was open in the late eighties and nineties, making gestural edits to the architecture of the space, and through placed objects in the space. The architecture seems to be designed for men to be social with each other, to be looking at and exposing their bodies to each other, and stands in stark contrast to what kinds of activities seem to permitted in the women’s locker room. I’m interested in the ways that architecture is shaped and shapes gendered bodies. One thing I’m doing is in the shower room I’m flipping every other tile on the floor upside down, and I’m flipping every other ceiling tile upside down, so you end up theoretically with a space that’s half upside down. I’m also planting a rose garden in the hot tub and turning that garden into a miniature sculpture park that will include replicas that I make of sculptures by queer artists in my cosmology.



The locker room in its initial state.


What, in the folly of your youth, is the worst art object you’ve ever made?

Sophomore year I was sticking a bunch of feathers through paintings. I was poking holes in paintings and sticking feathers right through them, and I was like, ‘why don’t you get it, this is brilliant,’ and no one really got it. I wanted them to fly! I was trying to give them wings.


Photo credit: Hunter Foster, Leah Gallant

For more of Hunter’s work, visit his website at http://www.hunterjfoster.com/ .

By Leah Gallant

Nayeon Yang is an interdisciplinary artist from South Korea. Through installation, performance, video, and participatory artworks, she explores the body as a site where memory and the passage of time are recorded. She is an MFA candidate at Ohio State University and holds a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

nayeon.2 Nayeon in her installation space in the men’s locker room in the Commerce Center.


How did you first start working with performance art?

I went to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where there was a very good performance art program, but I didn’t really take any classes in it. I was making some performative sculptural work that was very personal and private. When my professors saw it, they told me to take video and performance classes. But I’m a very shy person, so I said ‘no, no, I can’t.’ And then when I graduated, I finally admitted that my work is related to performance art. I decided to work at Defibrillator, the performance art gallery in Chicago, and through that I learned a lot about what performance art could be.

Nayeon Yang, Permeation:  (De)composing a Territory


Your portfolio is divided into sections that together form a full sentence: ‘I/ left home / to learn to become / an-other to you.’ How do each of those phrases relate to your practice?

The idea I’m really pursuing is about meeting people as a person and trying to figure out the boundary between us,  how the boundary is created, and if, by recognizing it, we can respect and overcome it. I go back and forth working in all those categories.  ‘Left home’ is about me. That section is more like talking to myself–it’s about self-expression more than communication. ‘To learn to become’ is about a practice of removing the ‘I’, or self. I figured out that when I was trying to express myself, I didn’t recognize who I was talking to. To remove myself, I focused on bodily mechanisms that all human beings have. So my body did not have to say anything about me, but served as an anonymous body that stated being present. For example, ‘Permeation: (De)composing a Territory’ is a video performance work where I tried to remove myself just by breathing. I was in a clear plastic box in the woods in winter, so when I breathed, the condensation made me become slowly invisible in the box. Now I see myself not as an individual but also as a part of society, part of culture, so that’s become the subject of most of my current practice. ‘An-other to you’ is about my existence in relationship to my surroundings.

nayeon_yang_borderline01Nayeon Yang, Borderline


‘Otherness’ or ‘the other’—race, nationality, gender, etc. when deviant from a white male norm—has been both a subject for artists to lift up social issues and a way to pigeonhole artists who might possess any of those identities – by saying, for example, that women artists can only make art about being a woman. Some of your work deals with your identities and some is less specific. What is the role of ‘otherness’ both in how you think about your work and how it’s been perceived by viewers?

I don’t need to recognize myself as an Asian or a woman. But I know I am recognized in those categories, and that’s often a difficulty for me. I don’t want to only make work about elaborating my own boundary because that would hardly open conversations. We are all different from each other, living in different and various boundaries. So, I rather want to focus on “how” my boundaries cross over “yours”. I’m trying to point out there’s actually no “you” without “I”. “You” and / or “They” can mean a group of people that is defined by social, cultural, political boundaries. I want to navigate myself, regardless of the given boundaries, where ‘I’ exist not to label “you” or “them” as the others. So, I am trying to encounter people as individuals first, as much as I try to be recognized as an individual rather than an Asian female artist. But sometimes, it is a necessity to use my given boundaries as a tool;  if I want to say “let’s overcome the boundary”, I have to point the boundary out. ‘Borderline,’ for example, was a performance piece where I was naked in a room covered in mylar and I held a security mirror tilted so I could make eye contact with the audience behind me. They were facing my back, but they could see my eyes in the mirror, and that was about not just the male gaze but about protest of rape issues in college, asking questions of boundary and autonomy of a body.

Nayeon Yang, Olympia, documentation of participants


Your piece ‘Olympia’ exemplifies for me questioning the idea of ‘you’ as a monolithic group. You wrote that that piece is “concerned with an authorship of a body that is violated by an image, more particularly, by ways to observe, exhibit, and market otherness such as different gender, culture, race, and class.” But rather than make yourself the subject of these questions and identities in your work, you deflect them onto the audience-participants. Particularly with your participatory performance pieces, you have these set-ups that make the art viewers the performers; they’re the ones performing for you. So who is the audience in your work?

In that piece, I performed as a photographer, and like in Manet’s ‘Olympia,’ I was totally naked, wearing high heels and a black ribbon necklace. I invited and asked them to pose like Olympia, and then photographed them, gave them the printed photo, and paid them one dollar. I was hoping to give them the time to think about and choose their role in the performance during and after their participation. I said I was a photographer and called them models. But the performance already implied that we were not in a photo studio, I was not a photographer, and they were not models. In that sense, they were not quite “performing”. My audience were the individuals encountering  familiar scenes in unfamiliar way. They interacted with my performance. Of course, I am thinking about the secondary audience who’s going to experience just the photos, not the actual performance.

Also complicating this idea of audience, the work is documented not only for documentation’s sake, but also for the participants – they are given a snapshot of themselves. Documentation becomes a part of the work itself.

Yes, documentation is a part of the work but not the work itself. I have to address that this is part of the work; what secondary audience experiences through the documentation can be very different from what my participants experience in person.


nayeon 2  Nayeon Yang, Emotion of Histories/ History of Emotions, photo by Sandra Derr



It seems like a way of propelling a piece forward as it unfolds in time. In ‘Emotion of Histories / Histories of Emotions,’ the documentation, in the forms of postcards from the audience members, goes on to fuel the next part of the work.

Developing this piece, it triggered me to think about how to document things that I can’t really document. After that, all my pieces include documentation as a part of my performance. It’s about finding what’s not being archived. Once something has been written it can be shared, and it often becomes a structure of a hierarchy. So I thought about what’s not being recorded, and therefore is disregarded. Smell has a really powerful element that triggers the memory, but there’s no way to record it using current technology. Because scent triggers very different things for individuals, I tried to use actual people as sites to record a smell. I then invited them to write their memory on a postcard and send it to my mom. So when she got all the postcards she emotionally responded to that— not necessarily the individual postcards but the idea of smell, and then the idea of me being in a foreign country. And she thought that probably I’m just lonely here and I have been missing family in Korea, and cooking is the best thing she could do for me, so she’s going to come over and cook for me. And after that project I really questioned what documentation meant–how documentation varies the interpretations and how documentation can archive what’s not perceived and recorded.

For more of Nayeon’s work, go to http://navelnayeon.com/

Photo credit: Leah Gallant, Nayeon Yang, Sandra Derr.

By Leah Gallant

nalani 1.2 Nalani in her installation space in the Commerce Center.

You started off as a painter, but now make more sculptural and installation-based work. How do you think your training informed your current work?

I started out as a really figurative painter because I was interested in people and the human form. When I got to Whitman College, I took more sculpture classes, but my sculpture work began as figurative too. As I looked at more work, I realized I was really drawn to people like Doris Salcedo or Mona Hatoum—artists who use objects like chairs and beds that relate to or represent figures. So I challenged myself to take the figure out of my work and use these other objects to represent people. I still think my background as a painter has been really helpful in terms of composition and other formal elements. And it showed up in my installation at the Birdsell, where I was doing watercolor paintings on the walls. It was nice to find a way to integrate painting back into installation.

birdsell.140 Nalani’s installation at the Birdsell, Weathered Walls


You’ve mentioned that your work is influenced by the gender studies classes you took while at Whitman College. Do you think going to a liberal arts school shaped your practice in other ways?

I think going to a liberal arts school was really important to my work. I was able to take a lot of other classes, such as gender studies, and be around people who were thinking about those ideas, but not through art. I think part of how that experience shaped my work is the idea of the personal being political. That was an idea that I first found more through feminist writing and oral histories. In some of my pieces it’s more blatant, such as ‘Small Spaces,’ a group of ceramic dresses.  It’s about how we perform our gender and are confined to certain gender roles, and that’s why I used this really hard material for the piece. The dresses are both cages that you get stuck in, but also this defense mechanism or armor.

Stolz_N_10 Nalani Stolz, Small Spaces


Unlike some artists whose work deals with gender and the domestic sphere, you don’t limit yourself to traditionally feminine materials and ways of making—you not only work in ceramics and sewing, but also wood, cement, etc. What’s the relationship between your materials and subject matter?

In painting, the material is a given, and it’s all about choosing the subject matter. So when I transitioned to sculpture, the material began to define the subject itself. I often start by finding a material that I’m interested in. I’ll see a chair that I’m really excited about, or the texture and color of the tea, and then that serves as a jumping off point for the rest of the work.

DSCN2659 Nalani Stolz, Rupture

Your recent work, ‘Rupture,’ which was included in the South Bend Selfie show at the South Bend Museum of Art, feels much less representational than your other work – it’s more about material and abstracted form. Do you think you’re turning away from using recognizable objects in your work?

I’m not necessarily moving in that direction, but I am continually trying to find the balance between having a really recognizable object but also transforming it enough that it becomes something new. Having these recognizable objects is a way for people to enter the work and relate to it, and it certainly influences the way that I interact with everyday objects now. By thinking of them as art material, I continue to approach objects differently because I always see that potential, and I hope it does the same thing for people who interact with the work.

You fill a lot of roles at the Birdsell Project—you’re a working artist yourself, but you also run the show. How does working on the administrative side of an arts organization shape your own practice? Or is it just giving you less time to work on things?

Having less time has actually been a good influence on me because it’s forced me to be more decisive—I have to be more efficient in my process. At the same time, I think it’s been necessary to have the art process, because it is very different from the administrative side, and it gives me a chance to really slow down again. In addition, looking at so many people’s work and reading what they have to say about their art has been a really nice way of relating to other artists and thinking more about what people here in the city are making. It’s made art-making a less solitary process.

nalani 2.2 Nalani will be installing in the Cavern beneath the Commerce Center.

You and the rest of the Birdsell crew have already done an incredible job of bringing the art scene you want to see in South Bend here by starting this really impressive project. What do you like about the state of the arts here, and what opportunities would you like to see for South Bend artists?

There are a lot of people doing interesting things for the arts, and it does feel like a supportive community already. When we started the Birdsell Project, there were a couple of people who said, “You guys are crazy, what are you doing,” but overwhelmingly people have been really supportive and interested in getting involved. I think the fact that Steve Mihaljevic (Owner of the Birdsell Mansion) and David Matthews (Owner of the Commerce Center) are willing to let us use their buildings for this project, shows the kind of opportunities and support that do exist in this community. And what we quickly learned during the application process for the first show was how many artists there are in South Bend who are making really interesting work. We really owe the success of our first show, and this project, to all the artists who participated and the incredible work they installed.

In South Bend there are so many exciting opportunities for repurposing unused buildings here. People have been doing this already–we’re definitely not the first ones. Colfax Campus and Notre Dame Center for Art and Culture are both in rehabbed buildings that are now art spaces. Lang Lab influenced us a lot. In terms of opportunities for artists, there are a lot of connections between the South Bend art scene and the universities, but I think there’s always room for more. Also, I think creating opportunities for emerging artists and finding ways to connect people who are already working is important. And by just jumping into this, not really knowing what we’re doing but learning it along the way, my hope is that it’ll influence other people to do similar things.

What’s the most ridiculous thing you’re willing to share from behind the scenes with the Birdsell Project?

Since we’re very short on funds we decided to cater the closing reception for the Birdsell installation ourselves. We borrowed the Purple Porch Coop’s kitchen after they closed at night, which meant starting cooking at 9pm.  The day before the reception, we were up until 5:30am making food. And then we brought it all back to my family’s house and stuffed it in the refrigerator, and my brother proceeded to accidentally eat half of our desserts. He ate all the brownies that were meant for the whole reception. We found him very ill-feeling the next morning, so then my mom ended up jumping in and making a ridiculous amount of brownies. But it worked out, and people liked the food!


Photo credit: Nalani Stolz, Peter Ringenberg, and Leah Gallant

By Leah Gallant

So Hee will be installing work in a swimming pool in the basement of the Commerce Center.



You studied painting at the Rhode Island School of Design, but have recently been working in installation as well. Was there a turning point where you started making installations rather than paintings?

I first made an installation for the show ‘Bruises/Birthmarks.’ I tried to translate what was going on in the planes of my paintings and turn them into space. I wanted to grab the gestures that were happening in the paintings and put them into materials, so I hung them all together, and they ended up being an installation.


So Hee Kim, Blue and its Edges and Depths
How do you see the relationship between those two mediums?

I try to draw on my cultural and physical environments and interpret them in whatever medium I find. But I think my paintings and installations are very different, because although they might look like they could’ve been made by the same person, the way they are performed or even their formal qualities are very different. For example, the paintings are more formal because they are all on the wall, the sizes are all similar, and they have an all-over composition. I think the problem or difficulty in painting is I fall into the habit of already visualizing what a painting might look like. I felt like I was copying the aesthetics of some of the artists I look up to, like Cy Twombly. So I think my goal now is to free my paintings from the wall and make something that is more a fabric of space-time—that’s the next step.  A similarity between the two is that in installations, I still think about the framing, the plane, and the wall a lot, because I use that to build onto space as if I’m painting in three dimensions. On the other hand, when I try to move from installations into paintings, I find a bit of difficulty because a lot of my installations are derived from something very visible and physical to the space. They might refer to a video, or a previous painting that I’ve made.

saltpepper So Hee Kim, Salt and Pepper


Your paintings are really loose and gestural and make use of color and mixed media, like salt and pepper packets. But at the same time, everything is ultimately confined to a stretched canvas, bringing an underlying sense of order that I don’t see in your installations, which are much more entropic—more Jason Rhoades than Sarah Sze. What are the roles of order and disorder in your work?

I realized that when I was done with all my work, after my year was over. I think that’s so true of my practice. I guess I’ve never really been too conscious of order or disorder, it was just the materiality that shaped the work –like the paint or the canvas.

You’ve mentioned that some of your other influences include Tom Sachs, Cy Twombly, Dieter Roth, and Shinro Ohtake. What’s your interest in how each of them uses materiality in their work?

A lot of my work is based on the ‘making’ part. I just keep making and the material that I work with helps to give the piece a context or focus. I like Cy Twombly’s use of linguistic material to show the possibility of expressing that as a material quality. I started thinking about the ketchup, or salt and pepper, or mustard, because it’s so literal and direct. With Dieter Roth, I know he started writing a lot of poems and short stories before he started making sculptures, drawings, and installations. I really like how he takes all his working habits or processes and documents everythng, or makes videos of all of them, and then in the end he fills the space with all the traces of working, all the furniture and things from the studio. It’s very moving to me because it seems so alive.

So Hee Kim, Mad Ketchup


What are you thinking about doing for your installation space at the pool?

Right now, I’m making a lot of swatches to make cut-outs for the space. There are various options in my head I want to try out, but my first idea was to make a pool of memory, where I could put everything that I’m thinking about— putting all of my confusions in the pool, just making it immensely packed with stuff.  I think for the pool it’s a really great opportunity for me. Instead of taking the idea of a painting and translating it from 2D to 3D or 3D to 2D, I have the opportunity to work from something new.




In her introduction to the winter 2015 show ‘The Forever Now: Contemporary Painting in an Atemporal World, ’ the first major show of recent paintings at MOMA in over forty years, curator Laura Hoptman notes that in much contemporary painting, there is an “a-historical free-for-all…where all eras co-exist.” Where do you see the medium heading in the next few decades, and why are you still working in the medium?

I think I could be one of the few people who still believes that modernism is not over yet. I do believe in the possibility of painting, but we also need a new move. To me, the reason I still paint is I feel like it gives me a lot—it allows me to move in different directions, but I always come back to this medium if I get lost somewhere else.


For more of So Hee’s work, go to her website at https://www.behance.net/skim26.

Photo credit: So Hee Kim and Leah Gallant