Ji Woo Kim

January 26, 2021
Tell us about your practice.
I’m Ji Woo, a painter currently based in British Columbia, Canada, and I make work that addresses the meaning of home (or sometimes the lack thereof) for individuals like myself who grew up as children of many cultures and places. My paintings are a personal investigation into the complex question of what defines home, and where it may lie for people with variegated cultural identities. This also extends into the cultural and emotional divergence that may be present within family relations as a result of physical/geographical distance.
How did growing up as a first-generation immigrant impact your worldview, and ultimately, your work?
Growing up as a first-gen immigrant has everything to do with everything for me: it’s perhaps the largest part of my identity and what makes me myself. It has put me on an ongoing journey of floating back and forth in perpetuity between time zones 17 hours apart, trying to navigate myself to a place that feels like home. I’ve been through cycles of feeling more Canadian than Korean, or more Asian than part of the Western world. I’ve been regarded as too Asian by some, and yet labeled as “whitewashed,” or a “banana” or “twinkie” by others. 
My work is ultimately my response to the experiences I’ve had and is part of a process that helps me reach the conclusion that home is both nowhere and everywhere. In a world where one is expected to either assimilate or become alienated, be labeled as “one of us,” or “one of them,” I’m creating my own niche, my own home.
What’s next for you?
I have my first solo show coming up at ATM Gallery in New York this summer, which is my main focus at the moment. I’m very excited to show my work and will be working hard in the studio to meet the deadline. In regards to painting, I’m not quite sure what will be next; I plan on continuing with the theme of home and identity, as it still feels unresolved to me, but I do want to try something perhaps a little more direct in my approach in addressing the issues at hand.

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