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Artists' reflection on essence of humanity

Exhibit on Taehoon Kim open to the public through Aug. 12

  • Dittmar Gallery hosting Korean-born and Chicago-based artist’s solo show
  • After more than 15 years, clay continues to be artist’s favorite material of choice
  • Artist’s work has been exhibited in national and international juried and invitational shows

EVANSTON - Taehoon Kim’s whimsical fired clay and glaze sculptures and his use of shape, size, starkness and bold color are intended to evoke a place between the subconscious and the evolution of substance. 

His modified and hybridized forms, some of which resemble “other worldly” creatures, also reveal a persuasive reflection on the essence of humanity and the myriad and evolving ways in which humans interact with animals. 

Free and open to the public, the Korean-born and Chicago-based artist’s solo exhibition, “Landscape of Subjective,” at Northwestern University’s Dittmar Memorial Gallery runs through Aug. 12. 

The Dittmar Gallery is located on the first floor of Northwestern’s Norris University Center, 1999 Campus Drive, on the University’s Evanston campus. 

Visitors will encounter nearly 20 of Kim’s works of varying sizes and shapes displayed on the Dittmar Gallery’s floor, as well seven wall-mounted works and a projected video.

“People generally believe that only the same species can communicate with each other without any difficulties,” Kim said. “I believe inter-species communication is possible through non-linguistic languages. We have the ability to share emotions and thoughts with different species, such as animals, plants or even some substances.”

As an example, Kim cited animal communicators who interact with animals; botanists who recognize how plants intelligently evoke mechanisms for life and the crystal structure of water, which can be affected by human sound.

“We are all the same creatures in this universe, although we have various appearances,” added the artist. 

Kim also has a knack for giving his non-animate works distinctive personalities. 

One of the show’s highlights is a large red glazed piece that is titled “HEAD.” The top of the super-sized glossy textured head of a man has a small teddy bear perched to one side. The man’s eyes are closed as if he is in the midst of deep meditation.

“The big red glazed ceramic head creates multiple relations between itself and other pieces that surround it,” said Kim. “The head not only suggests diversity and broadens the perspective of subjective matter, it also shows visualized color combinations with other interesting pieces.”

Those other pieces on display at the Dittmar include wall-mounted, tri-colored “Popsicles” made of fired clay, glaze and wood and a tiny fired clay and glaze house with a steep, pitched roof that sits on the floor nearby. The “Popsicle” serves as a metaphor for a tombstone in memory of the artist’s late friend. 

After working with clay for more than 15 years, Kim says clay continues to be his favorite material because of its ability to take on various forms and attractive colors. However, he says he also enjoys the thrill of using, learning and exploring new materials or media. 

Kim’s work has been exhibited in juried and invitational shows in New York, California, Georgia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Japan and Korea. 

More information on artist Taehoon Kim is available online.

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