Jin Soo Kim left South Korea for Los Angeles when she was twenty-four years old. She studied art at Western Illinois University, while supporting herself as a nurse. She went on to receive her M.F.A. from the School of The Art Institute of Chicago in 1983, where she now teaches.
Kim's preferred format is installation art, a work that is created for a particular indoor or outdoor space. Objects are placed by the artist to be experienced as a complete environment. Works of art of this nature, which are extensions of traditional sculpture, are characterized as "site-specific." In the 1990s, Kim began creating installations of welded wire cages that enclosed throwaway objects. The tattered armchairs, kitchen cabinets, and car doors, among other objects, which are encased in their metal vitrines, are metaphors for memory, loss, and healing. Kim's art, autobiographical in nature, springs from her dual cultural identity—her sensitivities to the disparities between the impoverished South Korea of her youth and the culture of abundance in America.
Gaining recognition in the mid-1980s, she was represented in the pace-setting exhibition Sculpture Inside Outside at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. In 1991, her environmental work Strata was installed at the Madison Art Center (Madison Museum of Contemporary Art) in 1991.
Boswell, Peter W. "Jin Soo Kim." In Sculpture Inside Outside. Martin Friedman, ed. New York: Rizzoli International Publications, Inc., 1988.
Jin Soo Kim, Strata, 1991, chenille bedspread, acrylic, steel, copper wire, medical plaster, bandage, and found keyboard, 100 x 26 1/2 x 13 inches. Collection of Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. Purchase, through Rudolph and Louise Langer Fund. 1993.05 © Jin Soo Kim
Jin Soo Kim. Photograph by Shayle Miller. Courtesy of the artist.