Kim Lee Kho, a Brampton Artist, grew up in a home of polar opposites. Her scientist father is a Chinese immigrant from Indonesia. Her artist mother is of English, Scottish and French heritage born of a long line of United Empire Loyalists of Upper Canada (it doesn’t get more Canadian than that).
Born in Montréal, Kim lived in Ottawa and Toronto before settling in Brampton.
Kim was the recipient of an Ontario Arts Council Emerging Visual Artists grant in 2013 that allowed her to focus on art making.
She currently instructs in the diploma, certificate and summer programs at Fleming College as well as teaches classes and workshops at the Nielson Park Creative Center.
A Marriage of Form and Meaning
Kim is an expressive artist who finds the making and finding of form to be magical. The marriage of meaning of form makes for the most interesting art. In Kim’s artwork, form adds to meaning, and often, introduces a small element of surprise. This element can catch viewers off-guard, touching them personally and emotionally on some level while inviting them to engage with the artwork.
As a multidisciplinary artist, Kim’s insatiable curiosity demands that she try everything. She creates sculpture, photo-based installation, plays with textiles, and her design background has her well versed in digital art-making techniques.
The Barriers We Build
Kim is interested in the self-imposed barriers that we build up around ourselves. Barriers keep us safe, but they also keep us separate us from one another. What is it that we are holding back and to what consequence? What is the cost of separating “us” from “others”?
The Vulnerability of Skin
Kim has a preoccupation with skin. People, she has found, share an automatic empathy for what happens to skin. Images of skin under pressure, stretched, or prodded creates an empathetic response in viewers. People recognize a link to one another when they realize that their empathetic feelings are shared. What is it about skin that spurs universal feelings of connected empathy? Skin is vulnerable. It has the unique ability to expose the collective vulnerability of humans and of individual people.
Self-imposed barriers keep the barricaded feeling safe, but isn’t something lost by separating “us” from the “others?” Isn’t there a cost when we can no longer empathize with and feel connected to other people? Appreciation and acknowledgement of universal vulnerability can create real connections between people and communities. Kim has harnessed the inherent, characteristic empathetic response to the vulnerability of skin to grow and expand these connections on a large scale. Feelings of empathy are passed on like a little flame, person to person, through her artwork.
The Key to Art-Making: Unbridled Discovery
How do you create art that causes a reaction in people you have never met personally? For Kim, it revolves around noticing and responding to your own responses to things. What hits you and how? Your own observations of feelings and experiences are the key to good art-making.
Our analytical brains only know what they know and relying on an analytical brain can get in the way of making art with meaning. Allowing for moments of discovery yields far better results. Get out of your own brain and discover what you have never known!
Artists of Inspiration
Kim has found major inspiration in the artwork of several artists. Joyce Wieland is among those who top the list. Montréal artist Jean-Pierre Larocque’s charcoal drawings captured Kim’s attention and imagination. Kim resonated with Picasso’s ground-breaking style and attitude. Michelangelo’s “Dying Slave” sculptures also offer inspiration to Kim. The pressing of skin in Canadian artist, Jenny Saville’s, paintings are directly referenced in some of Kim’s skin artworks featured at the Art Gallery of Mississauga as part of Chains Unlinked solo exhibition. You can see the immersive installation in the X-IT RM until September 23, 2015.
Want more Kim Lee Kho?
Explore her drawing, video and sculptural based immersive installation in the solo exhibition, Chains Unlinked, at the Art Gallery of Mississauga until September 13, 2015. The gallery is located right beside Square One in the Civic Centre.