Kim Na-kyung (Art, 3) was clutching on to her sign “Free Portraits” when students were bursting out at break time. It was an unprecedented phenomenon, of students pulling out their goodies in their pockets to exchange with a freshly scissored out portrait by this young artist. “This is what I find more meaningful than pursing money-worth business,” Kim said.
It all started one day when a thought popped up in Kim’s mind, “What can be truly valuable in life?” As an art major, her ideas naturally lead to an artistic conclusion.
Kim refused to simply sketch or make pieces of art that eventually would be shut up behind glass displays in museums or exhibitions. Kim decided to go around various parts of the city and draw portraits of people.
“I believed that by drawing bystanders’ portraits on the streets, I’ll be able to freely communicate with a broader audience, discover new images, and gain experience and inspiration,” Kim said.
From police officers trying to displace her sitting at the middle of Gwanghwamoon, to old grandmothers, Kim sketched more than 40 people at four different locations. One of Kim’s memorable guests was a career woman who happened to be an Ewha graduate. As Kim drew her portrait, they had a long chat about life.
“Later she bought me coffee to warm my hands. She also refused to give something materialized. Most of my guests were couples and families and they left me with something to show gratitude, apart from money. I don’t think money would ever be able to represent a value,” Kim said.
However as people took their portraits, it was hard for Kim to remember who she drew. Until then, people to leave anything behind that they thought had any special value to them so that Kim would have an item to remember her guests by. The range of these so called gifts varied from casino chips to accessories.
Finally, Kim decided to develop her works into a form of paper art. After cutting out a person’s face on a blank sheet of paper, she sprayed the fillings onto another paper and gave the sprayed version of portrait as a gift and kept the original version. “The idea was colorized by Andy Warhol’s works,” said Kim.
Now, Kim has a fat portfolio of the people she “cut through” plus a small collection of random objects her guests left. “The scene of myself and people exchanging pictures and miscellaneous items reminded me of a market place. It was actually, a market circulating value,” said Kim.
Kim sets her future goal in becoming a “communicating” artist that tunes with her audiences. Her role model is James Turrell because he also rejects pursues his own way of expressing his feelings. Unlike normal art exhibition with paintings on walls or sculptures posing sparsely, Turrell uses the space itself to make observers experience his world of art and what he wants to express. Kim admires that he leaves each person think freely about his art, instead of labeling it with a certain topic.
Kim already had a small exhibition at the ground floor of ECC on last December. Kim wishes to continue her “cutting out images” career and hold exhibitions occasionally to share her valuable memories and works with even more people. She also has plans on adding her work and daily records on an internet blog (http://blog.naver.com/torememberu).
Not only because of her racy flavor of art, but just by watching Kim heartily scissoring away attracts people and make them think over about what is really worth losing out in life. Kim is still a student and an amateur artist who has just started to take steps toward her career, so comparing to other artists would be ridiculously absurd. However, she may stand out among her fellow colleagues or contemporary youth who are still roam between the social demands and their own identity. As a person adhering to an unwavering view of values, Kim is a paragon for the topsy-turvy values of the younger generation.