The Queue: Hyunsoo Alice Kim

Get to know the people featured in the pages of our magazine as they share what's inspiring them right now.

The Queue: Hyunsoo Alice Kim

Get to know the people featured in the pages of our magazine as they share what's inspiring them right now.
Spring 2023 issue of American Craft magazine
Hyunsoo Alice Kim with 2 pieces of their artwork.

Hyunsoo Alice Kim with Mini Moonjar V, 2021, braided and coiled white leather, 14 x 18 x 14 in. (left) and Mini Moonjar VII, 2022, braided, coiled, and knitted white leather, silver wire, 14 x 18 x 14 in. Photo by Hyunsoo Alice Kim.

Welcome to the vessel series of The Queue.

A biweekly roundup for and by the craft community, The Queue introduces you to the artists, curators, organizers, and more featured in the pages of American Craft magazine. Our Spring 2023 issue (cover pictured right) is centered on the theme vessel and is out now! Join today to reserve your copy while there's still time. In The Queue, we invite the inspiring individuals featured in this issue to share personally about their lives and work as well as what's inspiring them right now.

Traditional forms and innovative materials join forces in Hyunsoo Alice Kim’s work.

In her artistic practice, Hyunsoo Alice Kim researches, designs, and creates textiles out of sustainable materials. Born in South Korea, Kim has lived abroad for years and describes herself as a nomad. Inspired by her lifestyle and need for portability, she created Woven Moonjar, a leather and wire vase evoking the moon jar, an ethereal traditional Korean ceramic form. She is an adjunct professor and Thingspace Fellow at Teachers College, Columbia University, where she is working on a doctorate in education. She wrote about the inspiration and process behind Woven Moonjar in “What’s in a Vessel?” in the Spring 2023 issue of American Craft. | @studio_alice

Cover of Spring American Craft magazine featuring a vessel in water.

How did your love of craft begin?
My love for craft began even before I learned the word craft. My first weaving project was in kindergarten, where we had a coaster-size tapestry frame. A teacher showed me how to weave with a large flat bamboo needle, up and down the warp.

How do you describe your work or practice in 50 words or less?
I’m a multidisciplinary artist, researcher, and educator who works in the realm of textiles, digital fabrication, research, and education. The three strands underlying my artistic practice are personal experiences as a “modern nomad,” historical research on Korean aesthetics (sustainability, practicality, and efficiency), and expertise in textiles and digital fabrication.

You refer to yourself as a “modern nomad” and attribute your use of textiles to create the Woven Moonjar to the demands of this way of living. What are some of your favorite kinds of portable (or lightweight) craft?
Korea was known as “a country of hats” during the Joseon Dynasty (1392–1910). One of the most well-known hat forms is called gat. While it may not be obvious from the appearance due to the black lacquer, the cylindrical part is woven with horsehair to provide flexibility, and the brim with bamboo for resistance.

What are your favorite technological tools?
I enjoy working with traditional tools as well as any type of computerized looms or digital fabrication machines, such as a laser cutter, 3D printer, and digital embroidery machine, which permits extensive freedom. I believe integrating technology into the making process is sustainable and efficient. I prefer to use a laser cutter when it comes to preplanning (using CAD) and cutting to minimize waste.

You’re also an educator and researcher working to find sustainable leather alternatives. How do you incorporate this work into your artistic practice?
I always have a number of different research projects in progress, and I’m starting to see some of them merging together. My research on Korean aesthetics and its artistic transformation into contemporary art forms is merging with another project of mine, Sustainable Leather, a research project integrating digital fabrication and biofabrication.

Which artists, craft exhibitions, or projects do you think the world should know about, and why?
A course I proposed at Teachers College, Columbia University, is the first Ivy League graduate course to offer textiles as a method for teaching digital fabrication. The first exhibition of the students’ work, Textile x Technology 2022, at Macy Art Gallery, attracted one of the gallery’s largest crowds.

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