Reflections on the Ashtray
For many, the simple taboo of smoking serves as a ritual to examine time- each one marking moments of reflection. While lingering through the dart, the past can rear its amorphous head into our field of thought; the frames come together in bursts of milliseconds, with various bits that are affixed and repeated. Maybe colors or spatial qualities are fluid, but you still reminisce about the same gut feelings, sensory scars, unsuspected bliss, and what they contribute to your current state. It’s the time we take to recall these details and how they were given to us, which reaffirms our individual present. And more often than we’d like, this time of reflection can occur involuntarily, especially in our mind’s garden; the place where we plant our ideas and memories, in hopes that they will flourish and be bountiful. But you will always find invasive growth and pests while maintaining your garden.
Smoking in the Garden stands as Kim’s own resolves from confrontations with generational trauma, in relation to familial folklore passed down by her Mother in the oral tradition. We are given a peek into moments from a garden that bears the fruits and weeds of recollection and imagination, as the artist sees it. The sculptural work has elements of protection and high visibility, be it size or choice of colors. Readymades are sprinkled in and elevated by the various forms that grow from deeply rooted sentiments, serving as reminders of origin. This is something we have the chance to engage more often than we imagine, but here we are positioned to think of our own reel and see what objects remind us the most about where we grow from. Some items are even fashioned into shiny charms, similar to what we pick up along our path and keep as totems of meaning to our experiences. Amalgamations of stretched limbs, spectral plants, and sensations of color are brought into the drawings in a way that conveys the inceptive process of viewing memories and experiencing dreams. The haze that comes and goes while we recollect details and piece them together in hopes we will be told something. Kim takes the traces from her family’s tale of history and fantasy, and has them germinate in the work.
This a sincere approach to exploring one’s familial background and ethnic history, in a way that is so personal. It could not be overstated enough that Kim’s reflective practice into her own history, even if mixed with fantasy, is something that we too can take into account of our own. We owe it to ourselves to light up every now and then in our gardens, in order to contextualize what we have grown so far for ourselves; admire what has thrived under your watchful eye or by surprise, and make note of the weeds and pests that plague your soil.
Accompanying text for the Smoking in the Garden exhibition at Phase Gallery, May 13 - June 10, 2023.