“The act of making art for me has much to do with my struggle and desire for the home. I often feel caught in between different places, primarily Korea and the United States, and I find it difficult to define what home is, because I am always moving. Wherever I go, I am present there. Home for me has become a verb: not stable and sensitive. Snails were intriguing to me because they are constantly carrying a shell, a form of architecture, their bodily home.”
The above quote clarifies the reoccurring theme of snails in artist Jae Yong Kim’s work. Kim makes the comparison of snails to humans in that like snails, humans are constantly moving from place to place looking for their next goal or adventure.
Kim was born in 1973 in South Korea. He spent time in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia before returning to South Korea where he spent a large amount of his childhood. He eventually traveled to the United States where he received a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Ceramics and Sculpture at the University of Hartford. Afterwards, he went to Cranbrook Academy of Art where he received his Masters of Fine Art in Ceramics. His artwork has led him to places all over America from New York City to Tampa to San Diego and places oversees as well, like Japan.
This constant movement again symbolizes not only Kim’s artwork but his life as well. The snails continual moving show ones struggle, growth, and overall journey to whatever makes them successful in their mind, regardless of what society expects from them. Kim states, “ Because we live in an incredibly fast paced culture that encourage and require people to have confidence and strength, there is seldom any room for failure and doubt, even though these are essential elements in life and absolutely necessary for growth. I desire to find a form of release and emancipation from these pressures by making the snail the subject of my work.”
While snail sculptures are his most recognizable work it isn’t his only work. Kim works on exaggerated animal figurines as well as jewelry in collaboration with jeweler Sally Sohn. His most recent exhibit is “Donut Craze” which consists of hundreds of colorized ceramic donuts in an organized display. The Philadelphia Art Alliance proclaims the exhibit “explores issues of consumption, globalism, mass production, and pleasure through the lens of the humble glazed donut.”
While Kim lives in New York he can be found working at his studio in Jersey City.
Featured Image Credit: Artsy – Lyons Wier Gallery