“Although I was born in Seoul, Korea, I lived in Kenya and Uganda for the first seven years of my life. Since then, I have lived in various parts of northern NJ. When I was 15, I made a life changing decision by studying with Korean exiled painter, Ung No Lee in Normandy, France. I discovered that summer how art was inextricably tied to
nature and my life.
I pursued my interest in art school in Rhode Island and graduate school in New York City. Following my formal education, I worked as a textile colorist in New York City, an adjunct professor at Bergen Community College in Paramus, NJ and as an art educator in Paterson, NJ. I am currently building a new body of work as part of my Lower East Side Printshop Keyholder Residency.”
– Biography on So Yoon Lym
“I first became inspired by this series when I started teaching at John F. Kennedy High School in Paterson, NJ in September 2001 up until June 2010. I loved the many beautiful hair styles of both my male and female students as well as the many students who I would see in the hallways who were not necessarily students I knew.
I would sometimes run after students in the hallway and request that they stop by room 108 briefly to allow me to take a picture of their hair and braid patterns. I was always pleasantly surprised and pleased that everyone always stopped by and allowed me to document their hair style. All my students if they had an interesting or unusual hair and braid pattern always allowed me to take pictures as well.
I would print out a photograph of the hair and braid pattern I am interested in painting, usually having to lighten the photograph considerably, so that I can see each distinct pattern. I begin with a light pencil drawing on the 22″ x 30″ paper. I then spend many hours building up the painting with acrylic paint, using the acrylic paint almost in a watercolor technique. Since, correcting a mistake is difficult especially with works on paper, I always try to work when I know I am able to concentrate and focus 100% without any distractions.
Most all these hair and braid patterns were not created in any kind of formal hair salon, except perhaps for some of the female hairstyles. From the many exhibitions I have shown these hair and braid patterns at, I have received a wonderful response and appreciation for these paintings particularly from art viewers who are of African-American heritage and from other practicing artists as well as various curators.
Perhaps one of the most touching responses I have had was from a local reporter of African American ancestry who met me at the Paterson Museum when I had a solo exhibition of this hair and braid pattern series, back in November 2010. Her eyes welled up with tears and she told me that when she looks at my hair and braid pattern painting series, she feels pride.”
– Paraphrased excerpts from her interview on NaturalSelectionBlog.