Una Kim

Professor in the Fine Arts 
Portland State University
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Una Kim was born and raised in South Korea and immigrated to Los Angeles, California at the age of sixteen. She attended undergraduate school at the University of Southern California and graduate school at the Parsons School of Design, New York, New York. She has shown her work nationally and internationally. She has completed several large murals in Portland area. Her late solo exhibitions have been in Gwangju and Daegu in South Korea, and Ningbo, China. She participated in international women’s exhibitions numerous times and the latest ones were at the National Museum, Beijing, China, and Ho Chi Minh Museum, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

Kim is active as a muralist and has curated several well-received shows in Portland. She vigorously promotes the work of her former students by facilitating exhibition opportunities.  She mentors her students by curating exhibitions to promote their work and by inviting them as volunteers on public art projects and hiring them as assistants for specific projects. She teaches art at Portland State University. Her next big project is to curate an exhibition of people’s art.

Artist Statement

Binary ways of thinking teach opposites for the sake of convenience, but I am more interested in the stuff between the opposites. I am a student of the “in-betweens.” I like movements and stoppages at the same time in a painting. I prefer the power of verticals that react to horizontals. I like tiny details in the middle of chaos. Painting and collage. Warm and cool. Gestural and static. These concerns have allowed me to capture, through my paintings, subtleties that cannot be defined by one category or the other, but both and neither. 

In this body of work, I explore such polarizing forces while capturing memories, imprints, and voices between them. Coming from another country and living in a foreign land have taught me to appreciate the in-betweens. I am an American citizen and no longer Korean, but I am between American and Korean. I speak both languages and travel in and out of both cultures 

with a strange grace. I am familiar with both, yet neither seems home. I intend to describe, through my work, cross-cultural and other moments–moments of the other–that are unknown and unspoken. 

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