Dong Kyu Kim is a mixed-media artist and fashion designer whose works are constructed of paper receipts, tickets, and other materials collected over the past 14 years since relocating to the United States. All his materials are sewn together by hand. Kim’s work explores his relationship to the U.S., the concept of the American dream, and how individual lives are affected by transitions in global economic structures. Kim has exhibited in museums and galleries throughout the U.S. He recently received a 2021 New Jersey Individual Artist Fellowship Award from the New Jersey State Council of the Arts and his work has received awards from many institutions, including the Florida State University Museum of Arts, FL; Oklahoma State University, OK; Minot State University, ND; and many others. He received a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Fashion Design.
Dong Kyu Kim stated that his work is composed of paper receipts, tickets, envelopes, and documents, as well as plastic and paper shopping bags and stickers. Each item provides a record of his various activities at a particular place and time. The receipts and shopping bags that he collects represent capitalism, consumerism, and his aspiration for wealth, status, and success. As he experienced the radical reshaping of the global economy, along with increasing globalisation, he became obsessed with the capitalistic ideals of money, fame, and success so his work asks questions about the impact of American capitalism on one’s values. It is an examination of the roots of human experience, of one’s desires, and how we all determine value. He sews the papers and other materials together by hand to create a patchwork. The repetitive and meditative act of stitching abandoned objects, leftover or discarded things (not special, unnoticed, undiscovered) helps him to record the passing of time and highlights the sanctity of labour.
Dong Kyu Kim is primarily a mixed-media artist whose works are constructed from his vast collections of paper receipts, tickets, and other materials which have been accumulated over the past 10 years since relocating in the US in 2007. Through his hand sewing his work explores his relationship to the US and how his own identity has been informed and defined by the concept of the American dream and how individual lives are affected by transitions in global economic structures. The work of Dong Kyu Kim occupies a middle place between craft and painting. His art is typically the result of manually stitching items, and each stitch has its own character, like a gesture; and each receipt reveals a different part of the artist’s psyche. TransAmerica for example details Dong Kyu Kim’s consumerist habits, re-imagines the American ideal of individuality and buying power in the form of manual labour devoted to stitching together mementos of experiences that the artist felt could be revisited again and again. http://www.garageartcenter.org/exhibition-single-dongkyu.html
This exhibition ‘Material Memories’ featured Dong Kyu Kim’s hand-stitched mixed media works which explored the boundary of useless and priceless. Material use has been extended further to include a collage of brown paper shopping bags and packing tape with hand sewing different crisscrossed stitches using various colours of thread to create layers and pattern. His work asks questions about the impact of American capitalism on one’s values, and what motivates a person to want more and more. He examines the roots of human desire coupled with value to better understand himself and others. https://www.dongkyu-kim.com/artwork.html
Korean-born artist Youngmin Lee holds a master’s degree in fashion design and a bachelor’s degree in clothing and textiles. She has presented numerous workshops, classes and demonstrations on Korean arts and crafts around the San Francisco Bay Area. Recently she has demonstrated her Bojagi and Maedub in the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco as a part of the Asia Alive Programme. She has also participated at the Oakland Museum’s Lunar New Year celebration with her Bojagi and Maedub artworks. Originally from Seoul, South Korea, Youngmin Lee moved to the San Francisco Bay area, this textile artist Youngmin Lee recalled thoughts of home by bringing a contemporary perspective to the hand stitched art of bojagi, practiced by her ancestors for hundreds of years. Youngmin finds the peaceful practice meditative and shares it with others through exhibiting her art and teaching.
The word Bojagi translates as wrapping or covering cloth and is the over-arching name given to this type of stitched textile. Bojagi have played an important role in traditional Korean culture and have been used to wrap, carry, and store objects as well as for religious rituals and marriages. These functional items were made not as a pastime hobby but were an integral part of daily life. Used at court, by the rich and poor alike they could be folded and stored taking up minimal space in more compact homes. They could be made from one large piece of fabric and embellished with lavish embroidery or pieced from scraps in designs known as Jogakbo. From traditional women’s work to contemporary sustainable textiles, bojagi works include delicately pieced and hand-stitched traditional bojagi, reinterpreted bojagi, wearable pieces, installations, and wall hangings. This uniquely Korean art form made by anonymous ancestors has evolved from functional works into a contemporary art form that is embraced worldwide.
Working alone, Youngmin Lee creates her own designs and individually makes every piece by hand. Using fabric from Korea—ramie, silk, Korean silk gauze, and organza–she has recently also begun to experiment with natural dyes. Youngmin’s artistry is truly representative of the centuries-long tradition of creative needlework engaged in by Korean women. Growing plant fibres, spinning fabric, and spending long hours creating clothing and other household necessities, women laboured all day and often long into the night by lamplight. To preserve every scrap of the precious fabric they had made, they developed a technique known as jogakbo, piecing the scraps together in spontaneous, creative, original designs that were then made into other useful items. One such item was the bojagi, a flat piece of cloth used to wrap, cover, and protect everything from food to special gifts. Ubiquitous in the Korean home, bojagi also came to carry symbolic meaning, honoring the creativity that went into making them as well as paying respect to the recipients of gifts that were wrapped in them. Youngmin noted that bojagi is not only wrapping cloths but the tool that I use to reinterpret the culture I grew up in and still surround myself with. The pieces that I make contain Korean culture as well as the family history of the recipient which is strongly connected with Korea. That is, each piece contains invisible threads that create connections between me and another. All these bits and pieces of cloth and meaning are connected, becoming a bojagi artwork. It is difficult to express but it is not just pieces of colourful fabric. http://100thimbles.com/youngmin-lee-bojagi-artist/
This Korean patchwork called bojagi or pojagi increasingly supports environmental sustainability as it is now considered a form of creative reuse because it often involves using up fabric scraps as well as repurposing and reclaiming a range of materials. That said the whole point of patchwork is to use up scraps, but bojagi is more than piecing scraps of materials together as the sewing technique allows you to use more delicate fabrics that might not do well with other patchwork sewing styles which includes linen, silk, ramie, or organza. Often hand-sewn flat felled seams have been used whereby all the raw edges of this piecing together are enclosed and finished, so the finished piece doesn’t have a definite “right” or “wrong” side, it can be reversible. Therefore, the seams have the raw edges “trapped” inside the seam. As a result, the seam is thicker and more finished. Hand stitching these seams can be associated with the creative process and slow stitching which adds to the meaning of the finished pieces. Dependent upon preferred finishes machine stitching can be used which can add more strength and resilience to the multiple seams. More recently the use of related bojagi techniques have been capitalised upon in more diverse ways to communicate contemporary narratives.
In January and February 2019, the Korean Cultural Centre in Washington DC hosted an exhibit called Tradition Transformed, featuring the bojagi art of Kumjoo Ahn, Julia Kwon and Wonju Seo which heralded increased use of bojagi within contemporary art.