Seung Jae Kim: Misread Affinity

Opening: Sunday, Nov 5, 2023 1 – 4 pm
Saturday, Nov 4 – Dec 17, 2023

1717 Central St.
Evanston, IL 60201

Seung Jae Kim was born in South Korea and finished his BFA in Korea. He received an MFA in fine art photography from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and had shows in LA, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Kentucky, Toronto, Azerbaijan, China and Korea. He was awarded fellowships and prizes from Nippon Steel, the Vermont Studio Center (full scholarship), Beverly Art Center, South Shore Art Center, Northern National Art Competition (Award of Excellence) and Ahl foundation. He also received fully funded scholarship artist residencies in Nebraska (Kimmel Harding Nelson center), New York (Catwalk residency) and Vermont (Vermont Studio Center). Kim is working artist in Glenview, Illinois.


With these monochromatic photographs of forests, I'd like to add some thoughts on relationships with nature, or define myself not just an observer but a single life form eventually destined to be included within the landscape.

I try to concentrate on paths and barriers consisting of the natural structures that are sometimes friendly and clearly visible, sometimes harsh and hidden. Without color, the roughness of textures were revealed more clearly and closely within my selected subjects, which depict the intimate distances occurring in hikes in Midwest forests where the absence of grandiose sceneries reveal instead many small ice age moraines and dunes.

Sometimes when I thought to leave the trail and walk through  grass or loose bushes, I found animal steps, graves, and resting places.  I began to realize that I was also lead to these places the same way the animal did. That was the moment I found that I am also one of the constituents of nature.

When I'm hiking in the forest, with multiple trails crossing, I worry about going back home, thinking about transportation,  approaching dusk, finding an open field without knowing how large it is, how much more my body can take on a hike, do I have an appointment, did I miss a shot,…etc and then I need to decide a direction to proceed purely with my own will. In that moment, I feel freedom and confinement at the same time. Obstacles everywhere but I can decide what I want. Of course, I can wait for a while but we all know that the time will come when we need to make decisions. It's a life time duty for all living animals consuming life, time and choices.

The darkness; which is a basic barrier element of nature, is also the background for the textures of nature of my photographic works. Unlike human recognition, darkness means rest, sleep, safety and hiding which is very essential to nature but is perceived very differently by people.