Artist of the Month: Kacy Min

 

Kacy Min moved to Canada from South Korea in 2011 where she earned her BFA and MFA. She has exhibited internationally, in South Korea, Canada, the United States, China, Japan and France and has received several awards for her work. Min predominantly works with mulberry, which is the raw material of Hanji (Korean handmade white paper).

1.  In your LaVaLab profile, you mention that you emphasize an extension of space rather than complicated beauty of form in your work. Can you tell us more about this?

In a painting, space can be more emphasized by using restrained objects and colors rather than delicate objects and colors. A picture contains beauty of harmony that comes from relation between the painted and the unpainted. In my painting, such beauty of harmony is described by leaving more space.

People feel pressure in a stuffy environment whereas they feel more stable and comfortable in a spacious environment. In my painting, a blank space that is supposed to be occupied or unoccupied can provide liveliness and vividness. Also, it enables the viewers to extend their imagination beyond the frame. I think the emphasis on space comes from my past life in Korea and its traditional culture and emotion.

 

2.  You also say that you use mulberry, which is the raw material of Hanii (Korean handmade white paper). Can you tell us more about this material, why and how you use it in your work? As well, what other types of media do you work with?

Hanji is Korean traditional paper. In my childhood, I lived in a traditional Korean house whose windows were made of wooden frame and Hanji. Thus, in daytime, I could see the soft and subdued sunlight spreading on Hanji. After I began my art practice, I became more attracted to the soft, natural and warm colors of Hanji.

Hanji is made from the inner bark of Paper Mulberry, a tree native to Korea that grows well on its rocky mountainsides, known in Korean as dak. Through a unique steam process, barks of paper mulberry branches are softened. And then, the outer layers are removed and the whitish innermost layers are left. A wooden club pounds those innermost layers until it becomes well spread out and softened. When the innermost layers are spread out, it is called Dakjuc. The prepared Dakjuc gets through the repeated processes of pounding. Then, through a unique sheet formation, a wet sheet is obtained and those sheets get through repeated processes of pounding, combining and draining. As a result of such processes, Hanji is very durable and flexible.

In my painting, I utilized durability and flexibility of Dakjuc, the pre-processed form of Hanji, rather than the paper form of Hanji. Through the processes of soaking, kneading and drying, Dackuc becomes a thick and rough sheet of Hanji. Other than Hanji, more specifically Dackuc, I use form board, acrylic color and Indian ink.

 

Image: Kacy Min, Conversation with Ordinary Images 2362 (24x36) Mixed Media on Mulberry Handmade Paper

 

3.  How have your formal studies in South Korea impacted your art practice?

I think the role of education is to maximize and pull out the potential of human beings. Specifically, I think a formal post-secondary education in art is a training procedure where diversity and creativity of students are respected and nurtured.

My post-secondary education was in early 1980s. While professors had their own teaching ways, there were some compulsive and arrogant ones. Under the instruction of many types of professors, I was losing my passion and confidence in painting over the time. However, I realized that it was my greed to digest all that I was learning and for the purpose of achievement.                  

Later, I strengthened the foundation of my practice in a number of repeatedly experimental paintings. After graduation, this experience became my strong asset and foundation and it helped me find the identity of my paintings.

 

4.  Who are your mentors? Has anyone in particular guided you through your process and professional art practice as a whole?

There was not a mentor in particular. I believe that I learned as I grew and gained experiences like many people. In my youth period, I read and learned from art books and biographies of artists I liked. Meanwhile, I made attempts to change my paintings by applying what I learned. One of my favorite artists is Amedeo Modigliani and a portrait named "Jeanne Hebuterne" by him gave me inspiration. The deep and calm outlines formed a vivid rhythm together with strong and concise curved lines that composed her lengthy face, inclined neck and shoulders and the elegant motion of her hands and body.

Also, Whanki Kim, who enormously influenced modern Korean painting, is one of my favorites and he influenced my painting practice. In his paintings, he describes Korean emotion by way of dividing the screen into simple geometric shapes so the space shows beauty of margin. Also, the thick and rough texture in his painting shows the physical nature of material in western oil painting. His works gave me inspiration for how to improve infinite ability of expression.

 

5.  What advice do you have for aspiring artists?

It's very difficult for me to comment. To be honest, I have been trying to practice and practice since I graduated school.

 

6.  How can we learn more and keep up with your latest work?

Now, I am a member of the Korean Artists' Society of Canada, KASC. KASC holds two exhibitions in Toronto, one in spring and the other in fall. This year, I submitted my painting for LoveArt Fair, one of the international art fairs in Toronto. In July, I submitted for Art Hampton in New York. You can see more of my paintings at http://www.kacymin.com.

 

See Kacy’s LaVaLab profile at http://lavalab.ca/artist/212.   


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