"Artist Olivia Kim's Moving World"
Olivia Kim's earliest memory, back in her native Philippines, was the moment she knew she'd be an artist.
"I remember being on this cement porch outside," she said. "I still couldn't speak yet and was probably less than 2 years old. I remember sitting there and all of a sudden getting all these kinds of sensations and images of what my life would be like. I had this early on, knowing I was going to be an artist. It's very weird. It's a nonverbal memory, and deeply ingrained, but that's why this whole art thing has gone forward like a highway truck."
That "whole art thing" has propelled Kim around the world—to Panama at age 16 where she worked on her Spanish and saw ancient petroglyphs; to Peru, on a solo trip at age 17, to seek out the Incan ruins of Machu Picchu; to the Philippines and Italy. Along the way, she studied art, made art, met a stone sculptor in Italy who would change her life.
Her parents had paved the way. They founded their own jewelry business, the Paper Bead Company, using up-cycled magazine paper, and they opened Archimage gift shop in 1983 with Kim's aunt and uncle. The eclectic store, on Monroe Avenue, is a Rochester institution—one that taught the young Kim that "it is possible to make and sell handmade work through craft shows and shops. My parents showed me that you can figure out how to solve a problem as you go along and come up with wonderful solutions."
ROCHESTER DEMOCRAT AND CHRONICLE
One of Kim's sculptures, "Heal Thyself," is now part of a collection of 200 pieces owned by Rochester art collector Dean Spong. A new exhibit, Body Norms, comprising 18 ceramic sculptures by area artists from Spong's collection, will be on display until March 11, 2016, at the Burchfield Penney Art Center in Buffalo.
You can admire Kim's work, but to hear about the constant study, travel, fear and discovery that helped forge it is to appreciate the intangible elements of art.
Here, Kim describes the long, continual exploration behind her art:
"As a child I was interested in world cultures from reading ancient myths and legends. At The School of the Arts in Rochester, where I attended middle and high school, there were students of different racial backgrounds. Being friends with various social cliqúes made me happy to learn about how special each way of life could be. The biggest motivation to travel was to experience art and world cultures firsthand.
What I found is that artworks have a presence that pictures in books or posters don't have. I was drawn to architecture, feeling what it was like to move throughout a space. Sculpture had to be seen from different angles and in different lighting to be appreciated. My body's relationship to a sculpture was the initial experience, which changed and developed into more subtle impressions.
Colors seen in person were very different from what a camera captured. Paintings felt like more than just an image and had presence that can't even be described.
“I remember sitting up at the Temple of the Sun on my 18th birthday, watching the sun come down on the Andes Mountains.”
I spent various amounts of time in different countries, from a week to years. At 17, I went by myself to visit Macchu Picchu. I was interested in the subtle energies of Macchu Picchu and, believe me, they are real. A curious thing happened while I was there. The Incans spoke Quechua, which is not Spanish, but somehow I could understand them anyway. This taught me that people communicate on a level that is deeper and more direct than words. I remember sitting up at the Temple of the Sun on my 18th birthday, watching the sun come down on the Andes Mountains.
Later I spent around nine years studying and making my artwork in various parts of Italy. While studying at the Florence Academy of Art, I visited parts of Italy, Greece, England, France, the former Czech Republic and Russia.
When I was making my bronzes in Carrara, Italy, I met a stone sculptor who became my fiancé. Life in Italy with my fiancé was wonderful but actually quite stressful. I realize in hindsight that I was suffering from culture shock.
I was learning Italian by listening to the people around me, mainly my fiancé. Not being able to understand the language at first felt isolating. In the meantime I was struggling to do art commissions, getting used to rural life in the mountains and developing my own artwork. It felt terrifying, and yet the period made me grow quite a bit. I felt a lot of anxiety and frustration, which eventually forced me to look at the causes of fear.
My fiance, Dario Tazzioli, was the first person I had met in a long time who seemed open and trusting. It felt like the hard, protective solitude I maintained in art school could flow out of my heart, and the simple part of me could be open again. We talked about art, shared our diverse approaches to life, and worked on art commissions.
“Life was simple and empty, which made for a great internal space to work.”
We showed our work in European art galleries. I wanted to see if I could make it as an artist in Italy. Indeed, it was doable. The Appenine village where we lived was Dario's hometown of Frassinoro, and I was always treated very well by everyone. Life was simple and empty, which made for a great internal space to work.
But eventually, something was burning in my heart—the desire to create a new voice for my sculptures. In Frassinoro, I spent three years making a leaping sculpture of a childhood friend, Melinda Phillips of Futurpointe Dance in Rochester (Out of the Abyss, aluminum and steel, 2007), using anatomy books, video and photo references. I did this while doing commissions and teaching art, which was taking up too much of my energy.
I needed a period to focus on the study of movement.
So I decided to move back to Rochester to regain some perspective and to study body movement, which was an unknown direction for me.
Four years ago I opened a studio in the Hungerford Building in Rochester. Since then it has been another whirlwind to build a solid studio, research human body movement and develop techniques in bronze and glass casting. I must have participated in at least 12 different shows and exhibitions locally and internationally.
I've made some sculptures of people doing common and dance movements. Recently I've worked with members of FuturPointe Dance and Natalie Rogers-Cropper of Garth Fagan Dance to learn about different types of contemporary dance movements. I would like to study world dances from indigenous to contemporary for starters. Then somewhere along the line I want to get into sports and compare everything with everyday movements. I've been finding that even the simplest gestures affect us psychologically, physically, emotionally and vice versa.
There is something intriguing to this that I want to explore."
For more, go to oliviakimstudio.com.
The Burchfield Penney Art Center (1300 Elmwood Ave., Buffalo; 716-878-6001, burchfieldpenney.org) has a permanent collection with works by more than 800 artists connected to western New York.
In addition to the Body Norms exhibit there, Kim's work will appear in the 10-Year Anniversary exhibit at Ock Hee's Gallery: (2 Lehigh Street Honeoye Falls; 624-4730, ockheesgallery.com).
Art House Press article: Olivia Kim
DEMOCRAT AND CHRONICLE Newspaper- "Olivia Kim creates sculptures of GFD dancer Natalie Rogers-Cropper"
ROCHESTER ARTS 2
by Rachel DeGuzman, 7:02 p.m. EST November 9, 2014
At times Fagan's dancers seem to inhabit a world of animated sculpture. This is especially true of my favorite Garth Fagan Dance works like his 2009 world-premiere, Mudan 175/39, and in the newer piece No Evidence of Failure from 2013, which features Fagan dancer Natalie Rogers-Cropper. So it's no surprise to me that a now iconic phrase danced by Rogers-Cropper in No Evidence of Failure has been depicted in sculpture by area artist Olivia Kim.I am a big fan of Garth Fagan's choreography mainly because of how it makes me feel, but when I stop to analyze what I love about his work, aside from the incredible interplay of movement and music, I think it is the sculptural quality of his work.
Natalie is the subject of the exhibition "The Dancer & The Shadow: Unveiling of Sculptures of Natalie Rogers of Garth Fagan Dance" by sculptor Olivia Kim, which runs November 8 to 22 at the Ock Hee's Gallery in Honeoye Falls, New York. For more about the exhibition, go here.
When I first saw No Evidence of Failure, I empathized on a visceral level with Rodgers-Cropper simultaneously poised for action as she napped on her arm - seemingly recharging for the next thing on her long to do list. I am sure the complexity of the life Natalie Rogers-Cropper portrayed first in the dance and that is now expressed in Kim's sculptures will resonate with many women. Both the dance and sculptures help to reveal the ordinary as heroic because they appraise the value of our contributions in life as more significant than they often appear reduced to the smaller frame of each day, act or individual role we play in life.
Olivia Kim sculpture of Natalie Rogers-Cropper. Photo credit: Norwood Pennewell
CITY Newspaper: "Winter Art Academy", excerpt
January 21, 2015 SPECIAL SECTIONS » WINTER GUIDE
While many make the most of the short and chilly days by engaging in winter recreation, frolicking in the freezing snow isn't everyone's cup of tea. But hibernating with Netflix can get a bit depressing.
Among the more creative things you can do while remaining cozy this winter is taking an art course. For less scratch (and time) than enrolling in art school, you can hone your artistic talents or learn new skills from local masters who teach one-on-one or small workshops.
Olivia Kim says she always knew she wanted to be an artist, and since childhood focused on developing a background in all the materials that visual art can be made from. She also studied dance, theatre, musical theatre, and vocal music. "I tried to have a well-rounded artistic background so that I could understand what the meaning is behind every kind of human expression," she says. This pursuit led her to visit other cultures as well.
"My present concern is to understand what is universal, so that this global community that we're now living in will have something to reflect on," she says. She hopes that reflection will help bring people together, realizing that there are some things that really are common.
The focus on movement has brought Kim into the world of dance, and recently she has been sculpting a Garth Fagan dancer, Natalie Rogers-Cropper.
Kim began teaching — all ages from teens through elders — in 2002, while attending the Florence Academy of Art. She says teaching is an empathetic profession, because you need to understand how the other person best learns. "Any number of variables can affect the way you talk to the person, or your body language," she says. "It's all about making the person comfortable enough so their mind can be open to it."
Since then, Kim has taught kids as young as 6 years old. "At that age, it's more about opening the person's experience to the world," she says. "How to hold tools, developing manual skills, not being afraid to try something."
She began teaching at the Rochester Art Club about three years ago, and also teaches private lessons in her Hungerford studio space. In the future, Kim will offer classes at Studio 34 on Elton Street. Classes include portrait sculpture, figure sculpture, and figure drawing, and has plans to teach glass casting and écorché sculpture, which is like medical illustration in 3D. "This is good for artists of all kinds, even those who work in 2D, because you better understand the physicality of what you're trying to describe," she says.
Kim says that teaching has helped her realize what she herself has overlooked, and that what you practice is exactly what you learn. "You think you can just jump over somewhere else, but you have to create a bridge to create an appropriate translation for the brain," she says. "If you don't, you actually have a bunch of big holes in your head and you don't even realize it. The big thing with this is trying to find where are those holes, and what is the connecting experience."
She says some of this has to do with demystifying the creation process — getting someone to understand the you cannot skip over the grueling part.
Kim says that learning how to create is no different from training your body to do anything else. "Biologically it can take even up to six months for something new to form," she says. What you're doing is stimulating the body and brain to grow neural pathways as you develop motor skills, muscle memory, and ability. This happens through repetition.
"Your body will only do something out of necessity, so you have to practice it, in order to tell your body that you want it to grow," Kim says. "Advertising knows this, that's why they repeat the message."
She still takes workshops, usually through the Rochester Art Club. "It's an engaging life. You think you know something, and then you realize it takes so much to get anything done in this life," she says. "If there's anything I've learned — get to it. Get to it, 'cause you don't have much time."
Find more on Olivia Kim at oliviakimstudio.com.
Radio station 92.1 FM "Discover the Fingerlakes" radio program: INTERVIEW
INTERVIEW of Sculptor Olivia Kim &
Dancer Natalie Rogers on their collaboration
Interview starts at 14:27 min.
SOLO EXHIBITION- "The Dancer and the Shadow"
Unveiling of Bronze and Glass sculptures of Natalie Rogers-Cropper of Garth Fagan Dance Company
at Ock Hee's Gallery
2 Lehigh St.
Rochester, NY 14611
Nov.- Dec. 2014
Russborough Mansion Sculpture Exhibition July 19 to August 10, 2014
Come see my work in the largest outdoor sculpture exhibition ever held in Ireland. Russborough is a Palladian style mansion surrounded by parklands- one of the most beautiful in the country. Organized by Gormley's Fine Art of Dublin, Ireland.
The Arts at the Gardens at Sonnenburg Gardens
August 16 & 17, 10am-5pm. I will be showing a small selection of work in bronze and glass with the Hungerford Artists.
Unveiling November 2014
UNVEILING THIS YEAR'S PROJECT:
Sculpture of Natalie Rogers- one of the principal dancers of Garth Fagan Dance, and Bessie Award winner, At Ock Hee's Gallery, Honeoye Falls, NY
DATES TO BE ANNOUNCED
Three-person show of SCULPTURE
at the Phelps Art Center, Phelps, NY.
Alongside Wayne Williams- sculptor of the Vietnam Veterans Sculpture at Highland Park, Rochester, NY
and recent monument to the Iroquois, in Canandaigua, NY
An adjacent show of work by sculptors from Rochester, NY will be having the opening reception at the same time.
DATES TO BE ANNOUNCED
DEMOCRAT AND CHRONICLE Newspaper- "MAG presents best 100 works by western NY artists"
Check out this VIDEO about why I make sculpture:
"Olivia Kim: Where Her HeArt Is" article from "Stop and Smell the Roses" arts and culture blog January 14, 2011
DEMOCRAT AND CHRONICLE ARTICLE: "From Italy, with Love and Art"
Out of a small studio in the industrial Hungerford Building, Olivia Kim creates figurative sculptures, capturing in vivid detail the dynamics of the human body in motion.
Kim graduated from Rochester's School of the Arts and went on to study at the Florence Academy of Art in Italy. But while on her journey, Kim met and fell in love with Dario Tazzioli, an accomplished artist in his native Italy, known for his stone sculptures, architectural restoration and al fresco outdoor portraits in the Italian Renaissance style.
The collaboration between the two has brought another unique voice to the local arts community.
Now engaged, Tazzioli and Kim, both 33, split their time between Rochester and Italy, where Tazzioli is completing several commissioned works. Tazzioli, who has a show titled "Inner World of Dario Tazzioli" through Aug. 25 at Ock Hee's Gallery in Honeoye Falls, also has started to build a base of collectors and clients here.
On a recent Saturday, in the hot sun, Tazzioli grinds chunks of rust-colored clay into fine sand and adds water to create a pigment that he'll use in an al fresco landscape painting.
He is demonstrating this ancient Italian technique to a group of a dozen art enthusiasts who have come to see him at Ock Hee's.
Al fresco is the art of painting on fresh, moist plaster. In Tazzioli's case, it's lime mortar that has been resting underground for three years. It is the same technique used by Michelangelo in the painting of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
Tazzioli's inspiration comes from the people he's met, mostly from his home village of Frassinoro, near Tuscany.
"I am inspired by faces," Tazzioli says.
One of his works at Ock Hee's Gallery depicts an elderly man with deep-set eyes and creases that show his age. Another features a balding man with a round face.
Tazzioli found an aptitude for art as a child and, as a teenager, approached the sole remaining stone carver in his tightknit village, Domenico Sassatelli. Modern industrialization had eliminated many of the practical needs for fine art, yet Tazzioli says his middle-class family -- led by his father, who worked for a waste management company, and his mother, who was an elementary school assistant -- supported his choice.
So he spent his time working with a hammer and iron chisel, learning from the master carver. Tazzioli also took to painting with red pigment.
He enrolled in the Academy of Fine Arts in Carrara, Italy, to learn how to incorporate different plasters and marble into his work. He began to work on commissions while exhibiting throughout Italy.
Born in the Phillippines and raised in Rochester by a Korean father and Chinese mother, Olivia Kim became an artist early.
"Even when she was little, she was good with her hands," her mother, Louisa Kim, says. While other people would spit the pits out of cherries, Olivia would dig the pits out with her small fingers.
The oldest of three girls, Kim grew up in a household that emphasized spirituality over materialism.
"My parents taught me that I am a citizen of the world," Kim says, explaining that she should extract the best from all cultures. For example, women are often second-class citizens in Asian societies, an attitude her family does not embrace, Kim says.
Louisa Kim readily admits that their children were not raised in a stereotypical Asian household that emphasized careers in math and science over the arts.
"When we came to America, we decided to raise our children as Americans," she says. "We want to encourage (Olivia) to do what she is good at. We support her calling."
Kim and her sisters were often the only Asian children in their 19th Ward neighborhood. Their father, Yong Kim, is an inventor who makes golf training equipment, while mom Louisa is a paper bead artist. The family owns Archimage novelty gift shop on Monroe Avenue in Rochester.
School of the Arts prepared Olivia Kim for ceramics studies at SUNY Alfred before she set off to Florence to perfect the art of sculpting.
The Italian connection
Originally, arat was their common language. Kim was at a gathering of art students, sitting at a cafe in Carrara. She and Tazzioli were introduced, and there was a connection, they say.
"I didn't know Italian, but I could undertand him," Kim recalls.
Within a few weeks, the artists became best friends and a couple.
Kim continued with her post-graduate work in Italy, and Tazzioli worked on several large commissions, from stone-carved fireplaces to a large group sculpture exhibition in Dublin, Ireland, in 2008.
Time flew by and inevitably the question came up of whether to take the relationship to the next level. The answer was yes, and they eventually moved back to Kim's hometown of Rochester in 2010.
A little bit of Italy in Rochester
Much of Tazzioli's work is done outside; Kim's work is the opposite, requiring small-hand precision and studio space.
The couple live with Kim's parents, which gives them a little more wiggle room financially to pursue their profession.
"The first investors are always parents who believe in their children," Olivia Kim says.
Louisa Kim agrees, noting that art is sometimes a hard life and they've chosen to invest in their children, who are all artists.
That freedom is allowing Kim to enroll in massage school --not to become a masseuse, but to better understand how the human body works. A careful student, she watches the body in motion to best capture it when it's cast in bronze or glass.
The couple found a supporter in Ock Hee Hale, who hosted an exibition of the couple's work last November and is currently hosting Tazzioli's works, which are selling for between $100 and $7,500.
Hale had heard about Kim through the Rochester art grapevine and met Tazzioli through Kim.
"He is a young man but has an old soul," Hale says of Tazzioli. His work is well-received by her patrons, and more than a half-dozen works in this show have sold, she says.
At Hale's gallery, Tazzioli met Richard Beligotti, a priest at St. Paul the Cross in Honeoye Falls. Beligotti is considering having Tazzioli repair damaged sculptures at St. Rose Cemetery in Lima. If he ends up getting the job, it would be his first commission in the Rochester area. Meanwhile, Tazzioli plans to fly back to Italy in August to work on a large public commission.
The couple say they've gotten used to the travel lifestyle.
"There's a soul connection when we're away -- a deep love between us, " Kim says.