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Hee Sook Kim and her experience in Artists Residencies

Hee Sook Kim is a talented artist from South Korea who lives and works in the US. As an internationally distinguished artist, Hee Sook Kim has been the recipient of several art prizes. Her works are in several public collections and numerous reviews have been dedicated to her creations. To date she has been fortunate enough to have participated in 8 artists residencies all over the world.

Singulart sat down with her to talk about her experience in artists residencies and how these have impacted her career and developed her artistic process.

Could you tell us how did you get to attend your first residency? Were you looking for something special?

The first one was in Vermont Studio Center in Vermont, USA. I sent an application and received the full fellowship. I wanted to travel and work in a place I had never been before.

What did your first residency bring to you ? 

It was a wonderful experience after graduate school. It provided me with privacy, solitude, focus, and exposure to places I would not have otherwise experienced.

You participated in 3 Artists residencies focused on printmaking, how did you use these new processes in your creations?

I was not familiar with the silkscreen process and learned a lot from it. Fallani Venezia Residency was a special place where I had always wanted to stay. It was an interesting collaboration with the Master Printer and owner Gianpaolo, and we created “Paradise Between 4” in silkscreen with special glitters.

You participated twice in the Youngeun Museum of Contemporary Arts Residency program, what can you tell us about it ?  

I heard about this residency from my friend the artist Bong Sang Yoo and sent in my application. Artists can stay from 3 to 12 months in this residency. It is located on a mountain side and faces a river. It is a beautiful setting for someone who loves nature. I stayed for 3 months and created a series of paintings, “Let Flowers Speak,” which were strongly influenced by my surroundings. On one occasion a butterfly actually landed on my painting and I was just fascinated by it. The residency Curator arranged a solo exhibition for me. My second residency was for just a month and that was organised by the Museum.

You have participated in different kinds of residency programs: at the Center for Arts in Santa Fe, a Museum in South Korea, a private and charitable residency at the Wurlitzer Foundation, what are the main differences between these artists residencies? 

Each residency is unique, due to its setting and what they provide for artists. It was great to have the opportunity to show my work with a solo exhibition at the Youngeun Museum. My favorite to date is definitely the Wurlitzer Foundation because of its beautiful location in Taos, New Mexico and the absolute solitude this setting provided.

What was your “best” residency and why ? 

My favorite residency is definitely the Wurlitzer Foundation residency were I have been fortunate to have stayed twice (2003 and 2011). It is my favorite because of its beautiful location in Taos, New Mexico and the solitude provided by this location. I produced my “Spiritual Medicine Series” in 2003 for healing and “Devisadero series” in 2011 influenced by the Devisaredo trail in winter time. It was life changing for me.

You live in the US and participated in Artists Residencies in Switzerland, Italy and South Korea, what did these international experiences bring to you and to your artistic process ?

I originally came from South Korea. My insatiable curiosity for foreign countries and places has made me travel so much. I want to continue to pursue more international residencies for as long as I can. I like to use special materials in certain brands, so I always have difficulty purchasing these when I travel to different countries. One of my major problems is to carry all my materials with me. Shipping is one way to do it, but shipping to foreign countries is always difficult.

What advice would you give to an artist who is willing to attend a residency ? 
I often see some artists who do not work hard during the residency, which is their choice. But a residency provides a focus and solitude for a limited time. I say, “Take advantage of that special environment and see what happens”.