Our April Artist of the month is the incredible Christine Kim from Toronto Canada. A multi-disciplinary artist who creates the most hauntingly beautiful hand drawn and cut portraits
Full name: Christine Kim
"My approach to cut paper collage is to start with the figure first. I'm drawn to figures of quiet contemplation and a certain melancholy. Cut paper art has always fascinated me because of this fragility and intricacy. The figures that remain are cut away but also the botanical patterns offer some shelter. It is the friction between what is lost and what remains where brokenness and resilience co-exist."
Where do you make your paper Art?
I'm a paper artist based in Toronto, Canada. I work from a home studio.
How long have you been working with paper?
I have been working with paper for ten years now. I first started creating immersive paper installations when I was doing my Master of Art Education.
How would you describe your approach to paper art?
My work varies so much from large installations to smaller cut paper collages. I think my approach in general revolves around my interest in shadows, patterns, and atmosphere.
When I first started my studies in fine arts, I chose printmaking as my specialty. I loved its close connection to paper, bookbinding, and drawing.
My approach to cut paper collage is to start with the figure first. I'm drawn to figures of quiet contemplation and a certain melancholy. Cut paper art has always fascinated me because of this fragility and intricacy. The figures that remain are cut away but also the botanical patterns offer some shelter. It is the friction between what is lost and what remains where brokenness and resilience co-exist.
Where do you find inspiration?
I've collected inspirations along the way. I refer to these inspirations as my constellation. There's this great quote from John Berger that I always refer to: "We are both storytellers. Lying on our backs, we look up at the night sky. This is where stories began, under the aegis of that multitude of stars which at night filch certitudes and sometimes return them as faith. Those who first invented and then named the constellations were storytellers. Tracing an imaginary line between a cluster of stars gave them an image and an identity. The stars threaded on that line were like events threaded on a narrative. Imagining the constellations did not of course change the stars, nor did it change the black emptiness that surrounds them. What it changed was the way people read the night sky." - John Berger, And Our Faces, My Heart, Brief as Photos.
I think that with each project, I use a different grouping of stars. I think it's important as an artist to "collect" and recognize what you're naturally drawn to and explore the reasons why. It's an exercise worth returning to again and again to find a new path to explore.
Describe your work to us in 3 words?
Fragile, haunting, mysterious.
What are your favourite papers to work with?
I like working with bristol paper to draw, cold pressed watercolour paper for painting, and Canson Mi-Teinte series for more colourful paper sculptures when I have commissions. I love collection japanese washi paper and chiyogami patterns. I have never used these papers in my artwork, but I have a penchant for building boxes to create my own storage solutions.
What tool could you not live without?
I can't live without my castroviejo scissors. I love their precision and ease of use. I started paper cutting by hand, but was worried about ergonomics and physical injuries. So I have been working with a Silhouette Cameo to create all of my work. It is super affordable and usually marketed to crafty moms for scrapbooking, but all designs are customizable. I have been eyeing a larger machine for years now, but for now, the Silhouette is perfect in size, affordability, and ease of use. I wish this was sponsored.
What is the best thing about working with paper as a medium?
Paper is affordable, recyclable, and portable. It's a great surface to draw and paint, but can take on sculptural forms when cut and scored. I like how accessible it is for artists of any stage.
Who are your favourite paper artists?
When I first started in paper, I was captivated by Mia Pearlman's swirling, stormy paper installations and I loved the simplicity of Peter Callesen's small A4 paper sculptures. Here's a list of other artists you can research: Pieter Saenredam, Chiaru Shiota, Lani Maestro, Edward Gorey, and Tord Boontje.
What are you working on at the moment?
I'm working on single layer drawings that have been intricately cut. I love the interplay between positive and negative space, and the feeling of creating layers of shadows drawn and shadows cast by the paper itself. I have recently begun to produce limited edition of paper cut prints that will soon be available on my website. I photograph a drawing, print them out and cut each one individually. The first one is now in my online shop and I chose to mount it on to mat board. However, I realized that by offering the paper cut print unmounted, it gives more flexibility for framing, so these next ones will be unmounted. To see the pieces now before it hits the shop, visit my Instagram @christinejhkim.