Victoria Kim paints the anxieties of introversion

Student artist explores isolation of social media

For Victoria Kim, painting her feelings has typically been easier than explaining them. 

Ever since she was young, Kim, BFA ’18, can remember drawing, doodling and sketching. As a child she said it was one of the few ways she could confidently express herself to others. 

As a current fine arts undergrad, Kim’s artistic abilities continue to allow her to digest her daily nerves and emotions. She uses these skills to demonstrate how introverts are left out of society today. 

In an interview with The Journal, Kim disclosed how her own discomfort experienced in social situations heavily influences her artwork as she explores her sensory overload. 

For this artist, it comes down to one major theme, Kim asks what socializing does to the state of our mental health, whether it’s online or in person. 

“I’m really introverted, I don’t have social media, I don’t go out — my whole day is pretty much spent alone … and so this is what [the world] feels like to me,” Kim said, referring to her artwork. 

She works to communicate this introversion in her work, using materials like string and wire to make the piece physically fall off the canvas, symbolically invading the viewer’s space. To Kim, this is what life feels like — even one-dimensional objects like a framed painting can be invasive. 

“I want the paintings to take up more space than they were intended to,” Kim said. “I guess what I’m trying do is to have things come out and be a lot — I want to show figures who are overwhelmed too,” Kim said, comparing her work to her own emotions. 

Kim's workspace. Photo by Julia Balakrishnan.

In the paintings she’s working on now, Kim peels off edges of the canvas so they extend outwards and occupy more space than a typical framed canvas is meant to. 

Kim explained her process of applying paste to the canvas, twisting and rearranging it until it physically juts off of the frame. Now having hardened, the three-dimensional paste works to create the feeling that the paintings are surrounding you. 

Kim is pursuing this method on three large canvas pieces she’s currently working on, in a hope to further explore the importance society often places on extroversion.

Though far from completion, these works are all dense, layered canvases, featuring mainly warm blues, reds and yellows hemmed in on all sides of the painting by darker shades. 

As Kim pointed out, she starts by painting her initial strokes several times over, making it look like the darkness is radiating off the pieces in the painting. This is because the darkness only partly covers up the light in some places. 

This technique works to reflect Kim’s own concerns of being self-conscious in social situations. She said art is the only way she feels like she can accurately communicate this feeling. 

Before she goes on to pursue an MFA after graduation, Kim explained her desire to explore her roots so she could better express her heritage through her art.  

“I’m half-Korean and it’s a part of myself that I’ve always wanted to talk about,” she said. Kim’s dad was born in Korea but emigrated at a young age.  

Kim expressed her hope of getting in touch with this side she felt somewhat disconnected from by returning to Korea for a few years to teach English. “I don’t really feel like I have a right to say anything because I don’t really know anything about that side of myself,” she added. 

Kim believes that people who are less outgoing often have difficulty finding comfort in today’s highly-connected society. Referring back to the connection between her introverted personality and her three-dimensional artwork, Kim said, “In the end, everything becomes a lot and the figure is fighting with the space as much as the things in the space itself.”

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