So Yoon Lym is an artist and high school teacher based in New Jersey, who originated from Seoul, Korea and has lived in Uganda and Kenya for 7 years before relocating to the United States with her parents. She has graduated with a BFA in Painting from the Rhode Island School of Design and earned her MFA in Painting at the Columbia University.
The artist has received much acclaim for her favorite artwork “Dreamtime”, which is a series of paintings, showing cornrows – a traditional style of braided hair close to the scalp – worn by students at the John F. Kennedy High School in Paterson, New Jersey. For about 8 years she would photographically document these different types of hairstyles for an art project she found herself commencing many years later in 2008. She took the concept of cornrows to a whole new level when creating portraits that would depict the complex geometric hair patterns from an aerial perspective, a view the artist chose to highlight and showcase the hair in the most abstract and contemporary way. Amazed by her stunning art series, we have asked Lym for an interview, which you can check out below. For more information visit her website www.soyoonlym.com.
Whom do you look up to?
I look up to and am in awe of the power of nature. I used to look up to people when I was younger, but I don’t like the idea or concept of idolatry as I have gotten older.
Who or what has been the biggest influence on your way of thinking?
My mother and father gave me ambition. But my mother was the most influential personality in terms of my becoming an artist and learning to love and apprecaite art. She encouraged me and financially supported me through many of the lean years and she was the first person who introduced me into the world of art and beauty.
How did your art career start?
I started my art career when I was 16 when I told my mother that I wanted to become an Artist. My mother promptly decided that I needed to study art in Paris, so she enrolled me (in the summer after my junior year in high school) to attend the Parsons Pre-College in Paris and Dordogne Summer Abroad Program.
What was your favourite project and why?
Hands down, my favourite project has been The Dreamtime painting series. Although, this was the most physically and emotionally demanding painting series to paint, the labor was so worth the numerous personal and professional connections that this painting series brought me over the course of the past 4 years with people from literally all over this wonderful world.
Quotes and Wisdoms
How do you define creativity?
Creativity is really “discipline”. Everyone and anyone can have an idea. But it takes discipline to execute and complete an idea into something physical…..which would be “Art”.
Do you have a favourite quote that describes what you truly believe in?
Everyday is a new day. You have to hope that good things will happen and live with hope.
What do you know now that you wish you knew at 21?
I wish I knew that I could enjoy life and make art, without worrying all the time.
If you had one advice for someone seeking to live a creative life, what would you tell him?
Keep doing what you are doing, see what other contemporary Artists as well as historical Artists are doing and have done, don’t live in a vacuum and always work to improve and expand your skills. As my father always tells me, “Art is forever, life is short”. One of the best parts about being an Artist, is that you can continue growing and improving as you get older.
What was the biggest challenge you’ve faced during your career as an artist?
I think there is a universal challenge that all artists face in their career, which is a financial challenge. I would love to make art full-time, but have always had to work to make money to make art. So, a subset challenge then becomes time…. and not having as much time to make art because of a job to make money.
Is there anything for which you would be ready to give up your passion for art?
Nothing can ever give up my passion for art. A life without art and a life without a passion would be a sad and lonely experience.
All images © So Yoon Lym