Walthall Fellow Spotlight: Wihro Kim

In the lead up to the 2017 Walthall Fellows’ exhibit at MOCA-GA this summer, we will be featuring an interview with each of the Fellows from this year’s cohort. This round, our intern Grace Gardner interviews Wihro Kim.

Wihro Kim is an artist based in Atlanta, GA, where he received his BFA from Georgia State University in 2015. He is a current Walthall Fellow for the 2016-2017 cycle and was named a finalist for the 2017-2018 Forward Arts Foundation Emerging Artist Award. Since graduating, Kim has shown locally in Atlanta at MINT Gallery, Hathaway Contemporary, and Poem 88 amongst others. His work consists primarily of paintings that question how we perceive space and surface. Recently, he has started making three dimensional objects and installations dealing with those same issues.

Grace Gardner: What would you say has been the most valuable experience you have taken away from WonderRoot’s Walthall Artist Fellowship?

Wihro Kim: Being around a lot of critical dialogue really helped me to stay sharp, but perhaps the most valuable aspect of the Walthall fellowship, for me, was being able to connect with the other artists, Sarah, and the WonderRoot staff in a special way. Either that or the Ossabaw trip, which are probably not mutually exclusive.

GG: Can you describe your process as an artist?

WK: My process in making work is very intuitive and improvisational. I have several launching points from where I might begin a work, whether it be an imagined space, a memory, an existing image, marks on a canvas, or just a mood I’m trying to convey. From there, I work in a way that evolves with the work, and my decisions are made based on what the work needs.

GG: What do you do when you find yourself at an “artist block”? Do you have any methods of pushing past that feeling?

WK: If I find myself in an artist block, I try to avoid being idle by doing the things I know will make me work, whether that be stretching canvas or starting something new. I also find that writing really helps to get my thoughts moving again.

There’s also something to be said about just pushing through and making bad work. I might not like the work I make when I’m trying to push through a block, but it will help me get to the next step.

GG: What advice do you have for individuals who are interested in becoming professional artists?

WK: Perhaps the best advice I’ve received about pursuing a career as an artist is to make your work your top priority. Really focusing on your work is what makes it get better over time, and if you make good work, everything else will follow. Also, sharing your work with others is important.

GG: In what ways, if any at all, is positive social change integrated into your work?

WK: This is a tricky question fro me to answer because I can’t say yes, but I also can’t say no. I believe all art has the ability to enact positive social change to some degree, depending on how it is perceived and how “positive social change” is defined. If you are asking is there is any tangible positive social change enacted by my work, I think I would have to say no. However, I do believe the act of creating, if it’s done in an exploratory way, is a force of good. I believe making art in that way can build bridges between people and act as a form of empowerment for the artist and the viewer.

GG: What do you plan to do upon completing the Walthall Artist Fellowship?

WK: My plans following the Walthall Fellowship are to continue making work for the foreseeable future. I have a few shows coming up and I will also be attending the Vermont Studio Center later this year.

Pink Interior, Oil on Canvas, 48″x60″, 2016

Building a Ship from the Shipwreck,…..a matter of finding our way, or rather, a willingness to be lost opens at MOCA-GA on July 13, 2017. The 2017 Walthall Artist Fellowship was generously and lovingly facilitated by Sarah Higgins, curator of the Zuckerman Museum at Kennesaw State University. Tickets can be purchased here.

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