‘Transnational nomadic lifestyle’ inspires alum’s award-winning work – VCU News

‘Transnational nomadic lifestyle’ inspires alum’s award-winning work – VCU News

&#13 By Leila Ugincius&#13 Cecilia Hankyeol Kim is from Korea. And England. And Australia and Singapore.


Cecilia Hankyeol Kim is from Korea. And England. And Australia and Singapore.

Her Korean household, headed by her expat father, lived a nomadic everyday living, so as a boy or girl she resided in every single place for only two to four yrs before transferring on to the following.

Cecilia Hankyeol Kim

“As a outcome, I am adept at adapting and assimilating to a new position very promptly,” said Kim, who obtained her MFA in photography and film from Virginia Commonwealth College past 12 months and is now an adjunct instructor in the Faculty of the Arts. “I came to value this knowledge only [recently], as in the course of people decades I resented that I could not settle down any where. It was a tiny devastating to get there at a new location being aware of that it was unavoidable to leave once again.”

As an artist, that migratory life style greatly influenced her practice. “A lot of my do the job is about navigating identification and constructing one’s individual perception of belonging,” she stated. “My movies convey to stories via voices and words and phrases. By the language of other people, you relate and replicate on you. A great deal of my operate is specially about currently being a Korean lady who has lived a lot more time exterior than within my property country.”

Impressive run of achievement

Kim’s do the job with spaces of “otherness” has acquired her a variety of prestigious residencies, awards and exhibitions.

She is a 2021-23 fellow of the Hamiltonian Artists, an innovative profession incubator application for rising visible artists, and the 2021 Trawick Prize Best in Clearly show winner. The juried Trawick competitiveness and exhibition was established in 2003, with the best winner getting $10,000.

Winning the Trawick Prize was a full shock, Kim said, but it gave her a lot of hope for the potential of video clip artwork. She was the only finalist whose principal medium was video.

“Being a video artist doesn’t gain me a whole lot of revenue, and I would have struggled to get by very last calendar year if it was not for the award winnings,” she mentioned. “I expended some of the funds to vacation and shoot my thesis film final yr.”

An image from Cecilia Hankyeol Kim's \"Performed Labor.\" Two hands filling a dumpling in front of a bowl of filling which is next to a plate of prepared dumplings.
An impression from Cecilia Hankyeol Kim’s “Carried out Labor.”

Exterior the isolation of the portray studio

Ironically, Kim was hardly ever fascinated in photography and film.

“In simple fact, I really do not think I had any authentic expertise for it,” she claimed. “As much as I can don’t forget, I preferred to be a guide illustrator and writer, and went into a portray method as an undergrad.” But as a sophomore at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, she took a moving-graphic course and liked that the medium permitted so considerably liberty.

“I was to begin with attracted by the novelty since I have by no means produced movies right before,” she stated. “I favored that you could make get the job done though staying an active member in modern society, outdoors the isolation of the painting studio, and that at periods it was essential to collaborate with my friends and relatives. For me, video was a medium for this kind of interpersonal link.”

Kim’s multichannel installations use various zones of seem, several immersive online video projections and parts from domestic areas to move viewers by her installations, mentioned Jon-Phillip Sheridan, chair of the VCU Division of Images and Film.

“Her concentration is on dramatizing very simple food substance and day-to-day functions and exchanges of like and care from the domestic place, and using them as a lens to analyze the bigger cultural implications — what they expose and obscure about Korean culture and Korean society in the diaspora,” he mentioned.

Developing room for a vast variety of cultural voices

The 2019 launch of Bong Joon-Ho’s “Parasite” garnered a whole lot of attention for Korean movies. It was then that Kim recognized that non-Asians had been getting curiosity in earlier released films that were being presently thriving in the East.

She made a class at VCU to share the wealthy heritage and astounding movies created in the previous couple of a long time in East Asia.

“It is vital to research and examine movies as artists and filmmakers ourselves,” she claimed. “I understood quickly when I came to VCU [as a student] that there weren’t any lessons devoted to non-Western scientific tests of movie in the images and movie program, and wished to aim especially on East Asian movies, which I am passionate about.”

The class is structured all over a collection of films with an overview of their social and political context in the nations in which they had been produced. Now teaching it for the second semester, Kim has observed that the movie historical past class comprises the most diverse group of learners she’s observed in a single class.

They appear from a large variety of cultural backgrounds, Kim explained, contributing insights from their have cultures.

“It has been actually amazing that this class is making room for these voices,” she said. “I consider it is common not only since of the modern successes of Asian films like ‘Parasite,’ but I actually assume that quite a few of these pupils have by now experienced a enthusiasm for Asian movies by filmmakers like Ang Lee and Wong Kar Wai, and it has taken until eventually now for a course to be devoted to them.”

Korean text on a screen
Cecilia Hankyeol Kim’s “Salt Dawn” at the Anderson Gallery.

Universal language

Kim is planning for her future undertaking — an formidable movie challenge that will choose her throughout the United States to web sites of labor, these types of as factories that manufacture Korean food items, immigrant families producing these meals at household, and geological web-sites these kinds of as salt mines and salt flats that relate to this circulation of transnational labor.

The undertaking reaches again to her documentary roots and her passion for film as a signifies to hook up and satisfy folks.

“I was mentally dependent on my art as a therapeutic strategy of self-healing as I regularly reassimilated into new international locations and towns,” she claimed of her youth. “Art continued to be a consolation to me, a universal language. Artwork was generally an outlet the place I could indirectly express myself with no words and phrases.

“Sometimes I wonder what my everyday living would search like now if I hadn’t moved around so a lot, but the transnational nomadic lifestyle is so embedded and definitive of who I am now. I like to believe it provides me a perception of liberation to have an abstract plan of my origins and residence, but not be physically sure to geographical site. This identification, of course, is the foundation of my artwork follow.”