By Jocelyn Moore
Northwest Asian Weekly
Walking into Davidson Galleries at Pioneer Square in October, you will likely find people connecting the dots at Eunice Kim’s latest printmaking exhibition, “2005-2015: Ten Year Survey.”
The exhibition is both a celebration and display of Kim’s journey in creating art by using a nontoxic technique to achieve a safer and more sustainable practice in the realm of collagraphy printmaking.
“I utilize a unique collagraph process of my own wherein each dot mark on the plate, in essence, is a miniature sculpture formed out of modeling paste, shaped, and polished entirely by hand,” Kim said. “This manual technique allows me to forego usage of caustic mordants such as nitric and hydrochloric acids that are typically employed in intaglio plate making.”
Like many other printmaking techniques, the practice of collagraphy can be dated back to 14th century when paper milling became a widespread phenomenon in Europe. The word collagraphy is originated from Greek words, in which “kola” means to glue while “graphos” means to write.
“You may be more familiar with printmaking than you’d think,” Kim said. “If you have ever made potato stamps or handprints, fingerprints, or footprints, in which case your hands and feet served as ready-made ‘plates’, you have engaged in some of the most basic forms of printmaking.”
Sam Davidson, the owner and director of Davidson Galleries, said Kim is “incredibly articulate and dedicated” in the way she approaches the materials and image making.
“People really respond to the way she approaches the materials,” said Davidson. “The little dots that she creates by the porous process are so consistently similar that you get a wonderful contradiction, a meticulous dot pattern, and painterly inking.”
As an art dealer for 44 years, Davidson said that selecting art pieces to showcase at his gallery can be very subjective and he personally is interested in artists who can say it all within a single picture frame.
Nonetheless, more importantly, he values good handling of technique and individual handwriting in an artist’s work.
“In other words, even if the artist changes processes, I can recognize the image making is by the same artist,” Davidson said.
“For somebody who works abstractly like Kim, it becomes particularly challenging for an artist to put their own stamp on those images because they are working with circles, cubes, things that are very familiar to everybody.”
Miranda Metcalf, the director of the contemporary department of Davidson Galleries shares similar thoughts on Kim’s work.
“If you look from right to left of the gallery, you know it is from her,” Metcalf said. “Eunice is a very good example of consistency.”
Kim attributes her success to her grandmother who she considers as “the single most influential person” on shaping who she is as an artist and her art.
“My Halmoni (Korean for grandma) didn’t need to teach; the lessons came through in her actions,” Kim said. “She was strong, uncomplicated, and direct, as well as diligent and meticulous.
“Halmoni passed on in 2008; she was 86. I like to think that, in how I work, I am keeping her close,” she said.
Growing up in Korea, Kim said culture provides her with the source material and reference points to engage in the creative process.
“Cultural background is absolutely integral to how I arrive at my work,” Kim said.
“My goal ultimately, is to distill it down to create imagery that steps beyond cultural specificity, and speaks to something more essential and universal in nature.”
Davidson recalled the time when Kim explained the meaning behinds the dots that made up her work.
“She explained that when she lived with her grandma in Seoul, she looked down from the apartment and would see kimchi pots,” Davidson said. “Hence you see a series of kimchi pots.”
Through months-long process of printmaking, Eunice is able to transform her dots into images that speak to each individual in very different ways.
At the exhibition, Kim mainly showcases the Tessellation series and the Porous series.
“The series are very different and they appeal to different people,” Metcalf said. “The Tessellation series has intellectual engagement. People see actual forms such as the face of the moon. The Porous series appeals to the emotional side. It gives people a sense of place and a very calming feeling.”
Ray Calabro who visited the gallery on the opening night said that he was drawn to an image from the Tessellation series that was included in the gallery’s monthly newsletter.
“I’m an architect and I was intrigued by the implied geometry,” Calabro said.
“I was gonna tell her that these ones (the Tesselation series) reminded me of the feathers of guineafowl,” said Fiona Lau, who came to see Kim’s work after she heard of it from an art class she took at Pratt. “Her work is very abstract but also has a very strong sense of pattern, sense of space, and reoccurring motif.”
This is Kim’s fourth solo exhibition at Davidson Galleries and the artist was gratified to see the response from the viewers on the opening night.
“I made art to be seen and this is one opportunity for me to come out to interact with the public,” she said. “Viewers can expect to see works ranging in scale from intimate, palm-sized 4×4 inches to composite pieces sized 36×36 inches assembled from 144 individual collagraphs.” (end)
Jocelyn Moore can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.