Wednesday, July 2, 2008

A conversation with Hee Jin Kang

We took notice of Hee Jin Kang's project about her parents' deli, entitled "Sandy's Deli," in the Winter/Spring 2008 issue of En Foco magazine. Then Joerg of Conscientious suggested we check out her photoblog. Through Hee Jin's photoblog we learned about her participation in A Declaration of Immigration, at the National Museum of Mexican Art opening on Independence Day. We thought it would be appropriate to highlight her work for this holiday that means so many thing to each of us.

Sandy's Deli (after Walker Evans) © Hee Jin Kang

NP: Tell us a little about yourself.

HJK: I was born in Seoul Korea, and my family moved to New York- Queens specifically - when I was three years old. I grew up in Queens, and then on Long Island. Apart from school (studying in New Haven, Paris and London), I've lived in Brooklyn for most of my adult life. I currently live in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Sandy's Deli (portrait with hats) © Hee Jin Kang

NP: How did you discover photography?

HJK: I randomly applied for a photo class my sophomore year in college and got in - to the question, "why do you want to take photography", I think I replied "because I don't want to major in econ". Luckily I had a couple of great professors who encouraged me.

NP: Where do you find inspiration?

HJK: Usually I find inspiration in people and things closest to me. I find the familiar and ordinary oddly inspirational.

Sandy's Deli (Halloween) © Hee Jin Kang

Sandy's Deli (Elvis at home) © Hee Jin Kang

NP: How did this project come about?

HJK: I was in NYC during Sept 11th, on my summer holiday from grad school in London. I had to go back to the UK a week after the attacks. When I moved back to New York after getting my degree, I realized that I wanted to spend more time with my parents. Photographing their store was my way of being productive while also being near my parents and documenting their lives.

Sandy's Deli (beach portrait) © Hee Jin Kang

NP: What's next?

HJK: Well there's an ongoing project about Brooklyn, primarily based on small details and found objects. Also, I've just spent two weeks in Woodstock on an artist residency shooting in Ulster County. At the end of August, I have another residency in Red Wing, Minnesota, the small town where my parents first met. I'll be photographing at the farm where my father worked as well as the town and townspeople. The Red Wing project is the prequel to Sandy's Deli.

These quiet, detailed filled still-lifes tell us so much about the occupants of Sandy's Deli. Thank you for sharing your work with us Hee Jin! Be sure to check out the complete "Sandy's Deli" portfolio and other projects on Hee Jin's website and see A Declaration of Immigration.

A Declaration on Immigration
July 4- September 7, 2008

National Museum of Mexican Art
1852 West 19th Street
Chicago, IL 60608
10 AM - 5 PM
Tuesday - Sunday
Admission is FREE

1 comment:

nina corvallo said...

great interview and work! Much looking forward to seeing what will come of the Minnesota residency.