Una Kim


As a child in South Korea I loved to draw and I was a serious student of calligraphy. When I came to the United States at age 16, making art was the one thing that made me happy. No language skills to help me, I was overwhelmed by a completely different culture. While still in High School I enrolled in night classes in drawing at Los Angeles Community College.

By the time I graduated from High School I knew that I wanted to be an artist. I enrolled at the University of Southern California. Upon graduation I packed up and headed east.

I began the MFA program at Parsons School of Design. I chose Parsons because it seemed the most rigorous program I could find. At Parsons, I studied closely with Leland Bell, Larry Rivers, and Paul Resika.

I was very influenced by Leland Bell and I treasured my time at Parsons, however, I was never completely at home in the cool New York Modernism of my teachers. I learned a lot about color theory and the space and place of objects but almost nothing about the place of experience in my work. The role of the artist was to create a particular artistic process or mastery of a skill that could be sold to the buyer. Although I do not believe in the absolute relevance of immediate expression in art, for example, by the time I saw the Mona Lisa it was already a spectacle and its meaning was very different than the original intent of the artist, I do not believe that today the artist only manipulates signs (a very popular view in 80s New York). As a painter I produce art objects and as a painter I refer to both what I know and what I can do on the canvass. My life and experiences inform what I produce and it cannot be otherwise.