Jin Soo Kim MMoCA Collects


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Jin Soo Kim, Strata, chenille bedspread, acrylic, steel, copper wire, medical plaster, bandage, and found keyboard, 1991.
Jin Soo Kim. Photograph by Shayle Miller. Courtesy of the artist.

This vertical assemblage—a sculpture made up of pre-existing objects—is a component from a series of similar structures that the artist presented as a single work of art at the Madison Art Center in 1992. The complete project, which filled a gallery, was entitled Strata: A New Installation by Jin Soo Kim. The museum's piece is an excerpt from the larger group and stands on its own.

Each separate element in Kim's Strata is a handmade open-metal cage. In these "display boxes" the artist encased found objects and materials. The example here weaves a chenille bedspread and plastered hospital bandages through the metal wires of the cages. Attached to one side is an old and damaged keyboard, removed from its original instrument case.

Much as glass vitrines put objects on view, Kim's metal boxes do the same, although as cages they suggest something trapped within. What is that? We sense there are many layers of meaning in our associations, which the title Strata suggests. Trusting our intuitions, we could associate the discarded keyboard and humble bedspread with the warmth of a home that no longer exists. All that is left are nostalgic memories. The medical plaster and hospital bandages bring to mind materials that are meant to help restore health. Are fragile recollections stored and made safe in a protective cage? Kim considers this work a metaphor for loss and healing.