Kyungah Ham
Floating Mysterious Nicergoline, Detail From SMS Series 02 
North Korean hand embroidery, silk threads on cotton, middle man, smuggling, secret code, censorship, confiscation, bribe, anxiety, ideology, wooden frame 
56 x 76 cm


Inherent in Kyungah Ham’s beautiful and elaborate embroidery series are the unseen realities of a politically divided nation, including references to extensive labor, censorship, smuggling, secret code, and tension. The artist first began her SMS series in 2008, undertaking a string of forbidden communication with anonymous North Korean hand embroiderers. This process of sending camouflaged messages across the border to North Korea, where the hand embroiderers interweave the message stitch by stitch into the form of an embroidery painting, followed by an unforeseeable period of waiting for the embroiderers’ response, has been elevated as a crucial part of the work itself, along with the completed artwork. Ham, who has worked on this series for over this past decade, began a relevant yet independent series titled SMS Detail since 2017. This work was named after the drug label on the medicine box that was used in the process of smuggling the embroidery.

아름답고 화려한 함경아의 자수 회화 연작에는 지난한 노동의 시간은 물론 검열, 밀수, 암호, 긴장감 등 보이지 않는 분단의 현실이 내재되어 있다. 작가는 2008년부터 시작된 <SMS> 연작을 통해 익명의 북한 자수 노동자들과 금기된 소통을 시도해왔다. 메시지가 숨겨진 도안을 북한으로 보내고, 이들이 흐린 불빛 아래에서 한 땀 한 땀 자수로 새긴 결과물을 돌려받는 방식으로, 작품은 물론 일련의 과정 자체가 작업으로 승화되었다. 지난 10여 년간 이렇게 작업을 거듭해온 작가는 2017년부터 <SMS> 연작에서 유래한 <SMS 디테일>이라는 독립적인 연작을 선보이기 시작하는데, 이 작품의 제목은 작업을 중간자와 소통할 때 사용하던 암호명에서 차용했다.


Jun 4, 2015 - Jul 25, 2015



Kyungah Ham, Subject of Solo Exhibition Abstract, Poetry Weapon / Soccer Paintings by soccer ball bouncing over Crocodile River at Carlier Gebauer Gallery in Madrid, Spain

Kyungah Ham Participates in 52 ARTISTS 52 ACTIONS, Group Exhibition at Artspace Sydney

Kyungah Ham Participates in the 3rd Edition of ASIA NOW in Paris

Kyungah Ham Participates in Group Exhibition Rediscovery of Colors at Museum SAN in Wonju, Korea 

Kyungah Ham Participates in Lecture Program UNDERSTANDING NORTH KOREA Hosted by University of California, Davis