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National Museum of Women in the Arts Greater Kansas City Chapter sponsors Kemper Museum exhibition

This year, Kansas City’s Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art is shining a light on local female artists. UMKC’s Hyeyoung Shin, an assistant professor of print media in the Department of Art and Art History, is one of the women chosen to exhibit her work.

The exhibition, entitled “Paper Routes—Women to Watch 2020,” focuses mainly on print media. I spoke to Professor Shin to get a firsthand look at the exhibit, the inspiration behind her art there and what the exhibit’s mission means to her personally.

This article has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Q: How did you get involved in the Kemper’s “Paper Routes—Women to Watch 2020?”

A: I applied to the open call ‘Women to Watch: Paper.’ Submissions were juried, and the exhibition curated by Erin Dziedzic, director of curatorial affairs at Kemper Museum. The call invited all self-identifying women artists living in Kansas or Missouri (within 150 miles of Kansas City) to enter work for consideration.

Q: Could you tell us about your work in the show?

A: In the exhibition project ‘Tide,’ I have produced and installed 47 pairs of paper feet casts on the gallery wall, to the floor, to create a theatrical installation of the movement of humans. These pieces are used to inspire retrospective thoughts about our paths as we walk through current gender, environmental, economic, social and political issues. Deeply inspired by the first Women’s March in 2017, I believe that the first step towards improving matters will empower us to change the world.

Shin’s created “Tide” using a traditional Korean technique called Jiho-gibeop

The casting method that I have used is one of Korea’s traditional paper craft techniques called ‘Jiho-gibeop,’ which is used to cast from the existing object forms. It is similar to the papier-mâché process in Western paper craft tradition. During the casting process, I use paper in a much more direct manner than I use for drawing or printing. The thin layers of paper allow me to replicate the folds and contours of skin, and I am always captivated by how paper replicates and keeps shapes, as if trying to save the memory of where they were placed.

Q: What is your favorite thing about the “Women to Watch” exhibition?

A: “Women to Watch” is an exhibition program that features underrepresented and emerging women artists. Each exhibition focuses on a specific medium or theme chosen by the museum’s curator. The program is designed to increase the visibility of, and critical response to, promising women artists in Kansas City.

For me, it is a perfect invitation since paper has been my long-time fascination, as I have been trained and practiced as a printmaker, artist’s bookmaker and paper sculptor. I also grew up in Korean culture where paper is not only a material to write or draw on, but also to use for creating home goods, furniture and even to use as architectural material.

From this upbringing, I see the paper as an embodiment of culture, as various papers that exist in different civilizations have the ability to hold and interconnect experiences and memories like human skin. So, obviously, when I heard about the call for this exhibition, I was thrilled to apply to share my paper sculpture works that I have been enthusiastic [about] for years, and I was hoping to show my focus on the transformation of two-dimensional paper into complex multiple-dimensional works of art.

Q: Do you have any upcoming plans for future exhibitions?

A: One of my recent screen print works has been invited to show at Epsten Gallery in September as a part of the exhibition “Look Me In The Eye,” and my paper sculpture proposal for the ArtKC Award Ceremony 2020 has been selected to create a commissioned project. This new project will be showcasing in February of 2020.

“Paper Routes — Women to Watch: 2020” is showing at the Kemper until September 15, 2019.

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