By Mary Gregory
SunSook Kim's Healing Art
By Mary Gregory
In some cases, it's possible to look at a work of art with no knowledge or consideration of its creator. In fact, for many works that have come down to us through time, we never know who made them. In other cases, it's impossible to separate the art from the life of the artist. The paintings and drawings of
Images of houses suggest shelter. They float in an abstract space, incomplete in their construction, and filled with a childlike nostalgia.
It may be that the artist, herself, isn't fully clear on the themes of home and shelter. In her life, she has been both witness to and victim of domestic difficulties and, at times, violence. Art became her refuge, or as she expresses it, her best friend. Through color, line, imagination and emotion,
As a woman,
The series of drawings and paintings that she created while she underwent surgery and other treatments can be challenging and difficult to see. But they are filled with an emotional and psychological reality that traditional imagery would be hard to equal. In them,
Throughout history, art has provided solace and sustenance. Healing rituals of civilizations around the world have often been based on some form of art. Dance, music, masks and even paintings were the medicine of choice for shamans and healers of earlier times. And in the modern age, only art could fully express and repel the horrors of wars, when societies themselves fall ill. When the great 20th-century master, Henri Matisse, survived torturous cancer surgeries at a time when medicine was less kind and evolved than it is today, it was his art, he declared, that saved him. Though he could no longer paint as he once did, he began a series of cut-outs that many see as his greatest accomplishment.
Mary Gregory is an award-winning art critic, writer, and novelist. Her articles appear regularly in some of the leading magazines and newspapers in New York. She has reviewed landmark exhibitions and interviewed and written features on top figures in the New York art world. Mary Gregory is part of a team honored by the New York Press Association for Best Coverage of the Arts in 2015, and she is a 2013, 2014 and 2015 Pushcart Prize nominee.