An Interview with Soojin Kim

Soojin J. Kim is a multidisciplinary artist who works and lives in Korea and the U.S. Her interest in food as a subject started from the memory of her father and has begun to transcend into the investigation of social and cultural meaning embedded. American sweets during Korean War in the 1950s are her most researched subject. For her, it is the indication of the loss of her father and a signal of the disappearance of traditional values in Korea due to the spreading of pop culture influenced by the United States.

This interview was conducted by our Art Editor Ashley Gaskin via email. Keep reading to learn more about Soojin’s history and how she incorporates it into her art. To see more of her work, check out her website and Instagram!

Cracked Oreo No.1114
2×66, Conte Crayon on Paper, 2021

Ashley Gaskin: In your bio, you said that your memory of your father and his Korean War experience fueled your affinity for American sweets. Can you talk a little more about that?

Soojin Kim: During the Korean War (1950-1953), most Koreans including my father’s family became refugees. The country was really poor even before the war and the war made it worse. The U.S. was the biggest portion of the UN Army that helped South Koreans fight against North Korea, China, and Russia during the Korean war. When the war was over, my father was about 5 years old, enough to remember during and the post-war hunger.

 One of his favorite stories to tell me (He told me more than thousands of times) was how he was good at running after and speaking in English to G.I.s to get American candies. Each time he didn’t forget to mention that American candies are the best. 

For as long as I remember, he always carried candies and chocolates in his shirt pocket every day. It’s a bit funny and sad at the same time for me to say that when my father died, he didn’t have any of his own teeth left. I can’t think of my father without American sweets.

AG: You also mention that you studied electrical engineering before switching to art, has the idea of pursuing art always been something in the back of your mind, or did you have an experience that pushed you toward pursuing art?

SK: My father was really good at drawing cartoons. My mom said that she fell in love with him because of his love letters filled with cartoons. When I was young, I spent a lot of time with my father drawing and painting together. Both my father and I didn’t think of pursuing it as a career but art was always with us.

AG: I saw on your website that you are very involved in your community. There are many pictures of you leading kids’ to make art related to food and other instances where you brought people together through art and food.  Can you describe what your community means to you and how you became involved in it?

SK: When I came to the U.S., diversity became a substantial issue in my life for the first time, since South Korea was an extremely homogeneous country. Since then I always thought it would have been nicer to experience different cultures earlier. 

So, as a Korean artist who resides in the U.S, I thought maybe it’s my role to provide a bit different cultural experience to the community. I enjoy working with children talking about art and food and learning from each other the way how American sweets came across to my father’s heart.

AG: I noticed that you draw Oreos primarily. What is your drawing process like?

SK: I break Oreos first. Hammering and taking pictures of them is the ritual before I start the drawings. I have a photo library of hundreds of cracked Oreo images. I make compositions by picking cracked Oreos from my image library. I seek balance, harmony, and contrast between black and white like in Asian ink drawings. The rest of it is rendering an image using a Conte crayon on heavy texture paper. Paper texture is essential to creating a cookie illusion.

Cracked Oreos No.5
42×60 Conte Crayon on Paper, 2017

AG: Are there any projects that you are working on or plan to work on that you would like to discuss?

SK: I am working on the artist’s books and media installations to present the historical narratives behind my work. Like the stories of my father can become an illustrated book at some point.  I also looking into my memories with other family members. Some mysteries got solved just because I am old enough or because I learned the cultural & historical background like my father’s obsession with American sweets. Those are my interest, and I would like to make a visual presentation of them. 

AG: What advice do you have for aspiring artists?

SK: There are many different ways to be an artist. For me, listening to my true voice and to express is my ultimate goal as an artist. I can suggest the same thing to aspiring artists if they are interested in my kinds of art. Listen to your voice and find the right medium that you enjoy working with will do the job.

An Interview with Bianca Rivetti Burattini

An Interview with Bianca Rivetti Burattini

São Paulo based artist, Bianca Rivetti Burattini, has been developing her art for several years through a span of different mediums, from traditional to digital art. Originally an Architect, Rivetti has incorporated different facets of color and composition knowledge within her craft.

Through fine art and illustration, Rivetti focuses on creating bold, colorful works that are heavily inspired by Brazilian culture, biodiversity, the female form and an overall feeling of wonder towards the world through a blend of pop art and fantasy.

This interview was conducted by Ashley Gaskin, our Art Editor for Issue 29 via email. We’re so excited to share Bianca’s work and the inspirations behind it! We highly recommend checking out more of Bianca’s beautiful work on her website, Instagram, and TikTok!

Perdida no Mar / Lost at Sea by Bianca Rivettia Burattini

Ashley Gaskin: In your artist statement, you mention that you were originally an architect. Can you describe how architecture has influenced your art?

Bianca Rivetti Burattini: Of course! I started architecture school when I turned 17 and, I think like everyone at that age, I didn’t have a good sense of what I wanted for my life and was very immature when it came to dealing with clients and whatnot. I began working the next year and it helped me better understand the compromises necessary to create a good creative project and how to process and adapt to feedback!

Another thing that I feel architecture gave me is a greater notion of space and distribution, which I apply to my pieces. I believe that in order to break rules of composition, you need to know how to work with them, and architecture school really helped me strategize and develop my ideas in a more organized and based way. Since my “natural” art process is very chaotic and messy I used to lose things along the way, now I have more purpose when creating.

AG: When did you realize that you wanted to pursue art and can you talk about your art journey a little more? Did you always know what kind of art you wanted to create?

BRB: Well, I learned how to draw with my mom who used to draw for me when I was a baby, while we ate. Since I can remember, art is the way that I am able to better express myself and has helped me deal with my anxiety from a very young age. Essentially, I believe art is a tool to better understand myself and express different ideas.

However, I never thought that art could be something to make a living out of, which is why I went on to study architecture. I graduated a week before the first pandemic shut down here in Brazil and had to go to two surgeries that left me unable to move very much for around eight months to a year. So, the world was in shambles and I couldn’t do anything out of bed essentially, and a friend of mine asked why I never posted my art before. I couldn’t think of a decent enough reason other than it stressed me out (haha!) so I started posting and people started asking me if I sold art or did commissions, so I began doing those and researching how art could potentially be a bigger part of my income. I’m still at the beginning of this process but have learned a lot during the last year and a half.

As for the type of art I wanted to create, it changes A LOT depending on my mood or what I’m in the mood for. I love experimenting with different materials and aesthetics and have been this way my entire life. Pop culture and surrealism are things that I’m very drawn to, as well as a more fantastic vibe I believe? So, these references reflect themselves in my art. Another thing I’ve never thought would be so big in my work is the use of color, which began during college. The power of color is incredible to me and is something I had never experimented with before.

AG: Also in your artist statement, you say that your, “Brazilian culture and its biodiversity” has greatly influenced your art, in what ways has your culture come through in your art?

BRB: God, I don’t think I can pinpoint that super specifically. It’s everywhere in my work, either in clearer ways such as our plants and animals or in more abstract lenses using folklore, our cities, poems and music as inspiration!

I also believe that, since I’m Brazilian and currently live here, everything around me is an influence, and our customs and day-to-day life also come through in my work. I hope that made sense. It’s difficult to explain what our culture means to me when I’m so immersed in it all of the time!

AG: I noticed that many of your artworks have a hint of the ocean in them, for example, your work “Lost at Sea” has the subject enwrapped in a scarf of fish. What has influenced these kinds of compositions?

BRB: Yes! I’m so glad you noticed it and it is connected with your last question, actually! I live very close to the ocean and growing up we were always either at the beach for competitive swimming or exploring coral reefs, etc. I even wanted to be a marine biologist for many years from a very young age and always researched the sea. It’s a big part of who I am and a big part of my memories.

Another way the ocean may appear in my work, or art in general, is through the influence of other media. For example, the poem “Ismália” is a Brazilian poem about a woman who became herself through death, once she accepted her madness and threw herself at the sea to be one with the moon. It’s a heavy poem but one that brought me a lot of comfort when I was younger and struggling and it still shows up in my work from time to time.

AG: You said in your artist’s statement that your subject matter is a “mix of pop culture and fantasy”. What led you to create art in these styles?

BRB: Well, like I said, to myself, art is the main way in which I explore my feelings and emotions, and from a very young age cinema and animation were very comforting to me. I think that sense of wonder and exploration that art can bring you is very difficult to replicate and once a work speaks to you, at least for me, you end up searching for all those little details and building a narrative inside your mind. I think it can even be a form of escapism. So I think the thing that led me toward this style is that little kid inside my head, that has a very creative imagination!

AG: What other artists have influenced or inspired you?

BRB: Gosh, so many! The first artist I really connected with was Van Gogh ( I know, cliché haha) because of how his brushwork attracted my attention when I was very young. Another one that has a very similar effect on me is Hieronymus Bosch, I could stare at his interpretation of the deadly sins for days on end and not get tired. I also believe that visual art doesn’t have to be inspired directly by visual art. Fernando Pessoa and Alphonsus Guimaraens are strong sources of inspiration, lots of animation studios (like Cartoon Saloon, Studio Ghibli, Disney, Laika, Ponoc, Filme de Papel, etc), series, cinema, etc! Even my friends who are writers and artists greatly inspire me.