Yong Joo Kim

Published: 02.04.2024


A native of Seoul, Korea, Yong Joo Kim received her MFA in Jewelry and Metalsmithing from the Rhode Island School of Design and her BFA in Arts and Crafts (Metals and Textiles) from Sook Myung Women’s University. She is a Society of Arts and Crafts (SAC) and NICHE award-winning artist with an extensive record of exhibitions across Europe, Asia, North America, and Australia. She is considered a pioneer in the use of hook-and-loop fasteners as material for art. Her work crosses the genre of both wearable sculpture and installations.
She has been a featured speaker at premier conferences and exhibitions such as the Society of North American Goldsmiths (SNAG) and Sculpture Objects Functional Art and design (SOFA). Her work appears in the permanent collection of Museum of Arts and Design (MAD), Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A), Art Gallery of South Australia (AGSA), Los Angeles County Museum of Art(LACMA), National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art’s Art Bank (MMCA), Seoul Museum of Craft Art, Pureun Cultural Foundation, and Velcro Group.


What does it mean for us to survive?
For me, making art is a way of exploring this simple yet complex question.
I focus primarily on a single material of choice: hook and loop fasteners. The choice to create 
jewelry out of an inexpensive material often considered unattractive and mundane was originally inspired by two reasons. On the one hand, it was to survive financially by keeping material costs down. On the other hand, it was to challenge my ability to survive in a field known for its use of attractive and precious materials. What I have since learned is that the creative process is also something that requires survival.
In the creative process, we often get stuck. When we do, we feel as if there is a finite limit to our ability to create. To survive the creative process is to continue to feel alive when we get stuck by not giving up. To do this, we must be able to embrace and appropriately respond to a variety of unpleasant surprises, so as to overcome them. What’s pleasantly surprising about this is that when we do, we often end up with art that defies our imagination. Art provides us with experiences of sublime, inspiration, and beauty, which helps us realize that there still exists infinite possibilities. I wish to share these experiences with those who witness or wear my work.

Overview: Requisite Variety
After graduation in 2009, I was left with a limited set of tools, resources, and finances. Such limitation made me search for an inexpensive material that I could shape with my bare hands. The material I chose was pieces of grey and black hook and loop fasteners.

Making art became a method of survival. The act of making breathed meaning and reason necessary for my psychological survival. The act of sharing my work with the world provided food, clothes and shelter necessary for my physical survival.

To more consciously explore the relationship between art and survival, I decided to limit myself to merely three distinct shapes of hook and loop fasteners. I wondered if I could survive with such harsh limitations.

As I started to experiment by generating many diverse sets of forms from one or more of the three shapes, I began to see an inextricable link between survival and mastery.

Ashby's Law of Requisite Variety states that only variety can absorb variety. What he means is that, in order to master any problem or process, we have to be able to bring more variety to bear than is inherent in the situation.

Think of two jazz players improvising: one plays a certain melody and another responds with a different melody. Even when an unexpected melody is played, a master improviser has the ability to choose the most appropriate response that expresses the feeling they desire while maintaining the integrity of the ensemble. In this regard, mastery is the stage that one reaches by acquiring a sufficient variety of responses that empowers one to deal with this kind of interaction.

If the jazz players’ continuous playing is analogous to me being able to keep generating new forms, could this be what it means to survive? Could the process of survival be inextricably linked to the process of achieving mastery?


Think of beans, straws, pins, nails, velcro, snaps, cable ties, and electric caps. These objects are not normally considered beautiful or valuable. I explore the value of such mundane objects and discover their hidden beauty through a process of reconfiguration. Think of the velcro: a long strip of rough, bland, and industrial objects, seen on shoes, bags, watches, and at the grocery store. As I pay close attention to it and its system of organization in my environment, I find new ways of looking, new ways of decomposing and composing them, and new ways of creating a relationship between it and our body. My work introduces the unconventional use of familiar artefacts into a world full of conventions.

By assembling, grouping, clustering, and piling, the simple elements become complex and give rise to the unexpected. As the wearer approaches my work, their perspective shifts and sudden realizations spark wonder, discovery, tension, joy and play. My investigation of creation, innovation, and transformation questions the definition of value and provides a never-ending field for invention.


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Events      View / hide events

Exhibition  04 Apr 2024 - 26 May 2024  The Strength it Takes to be Alone by Yong Joo Kim.
Exhibition  08 Dec 2023 - 21 Dec 2023  Just Art! Beyond Borders.
Exhibition  13 Nov 2023 - 19 Nov 2023  Wearing Red, Ignite the Fire.
Exhibition  09 Oct 2023 - 15 Oct 2023  Kyeol: Beyond Fine and Rough.
Exhibition  28 Sep 2023 - 30 Sep 2023  Siat Gallery at Contemporania Fair in Barcelona.
Exhibition  07 Sep 2023 - 10 Sep 2023  Kiaf Seoul represented by Gallery Sklo.
Coex, Seoul, South Korea
Exhibition  27 Apr 2023 - 28 May 2023  As Gaudy as a Butterfly.
Museo Nacional de Cerámica y Artes Suntuarias González Martí, Valencia, Spain
Fair  27 Apr 2022 - 30 Apr 2022  MAD About Jewelry 2022.
Exhibition  01 Sep 2021 - 13 Sep 2021  Providence.
Exhibition  26 Feb 2021 - 07 Mar 2021  Veer: Sign of Life by Yong Joo Kim.
Exhibition  03 Dec 2020 - 28 Jan 2021  25th Annual Exhibition of the Gallery's Artists.
Exhibition  01 Sep 2020 - 16 Oct 2020  Ornament.
Exhibition  19 Jun 2020 - 25 Jul 2020  Double Solo Exhibition: Yong Joo Kim and Kasimir Oppermann.
Exhibition  02 Oct 2019 - 12 Oct 2019  Contemplastic III.
Exhibition  06 Sep 2019 - 09 Nov 2019  Insistent. Gesture..
Exhibition  02 Aug 2019 - 22 Sep 2019  Building on the Body: Identity, Materials, Jewelry.
Exhibition  30 May 2019 - 14 Jul 2019  Sarangbang. Korean Contemporary Jewelry.
Exhibition  22 May 2019 - 26 May 2019  Yong Joo Kim and Youjin Um at ARTMINING Paris 2019.
Exhibition  09 Apr 2019 - 14 Apr 2019  Yong Joo Kim at ARTMINING Milano 2019.
Exhibition  13 Dec 2018 - 04 Jan 2019  Sagabowol.
Exhibition  08 Dec 2018 - 31 Jan 2019  Nature Redefined: Contemporary Explorations.
Exhibition  28 Nov 2018 - 05 Dec 2018  Threshold of Respect by Yong Joo Kim.
Exhibition  19 Oct 2018 - 06 Jan 2019  SNAG at Triple Parade in Shanghai 2018.
Exhibition  09 Sep 2018 - 14 Oct 2018  Structure by Christian Faur, Yong Joo Kim and Zemer Peled.
Exhibition  07 Dec 2017 - 10 Dec 2017  Yong Joo Kim represented at FORM Miami 2017.
Exhibition  23 Jun 2017 - 28 Jul 2017  Ornamentation.
Exhibition  14 Apr 2017 - 02 Jun 2017  Touchy Feely.
Exhibition  17 Mar 2017 - 06 Apr 2017  Infinity In Finity by Yong Joo Kim.
Exhibition  17 Jan 2017 - 26 Jan 2017  Contemplastic II.
Exhibition  25 Nov 2016 - 25 Feb 2017  20/20/20.
Fair  03 Nov 2016 - 06 Nov 2016  SOFA Chicago Represented by Galerie Noel Guyomarc'h.
Exhibition  23 Aug 2016 - 24 Sep 2016  Mari Funaki Award for Contemporary Jewellery Exhibition 2016.
Exhibition  01 Aug 2016 - 17 Sep 2016  Make Your Movements. Korean Contemporary Objects, A New Approach.
Exhibition  01 Aug 2016 - 17 Sep 2016  Make Your Movements. Korean Contemporary Objects, A New Approach.
Exhibition  01 Jul 2016 - 06 Oct 2016  Color Me This. Contemporary Art Jewelry.
Exhibition  16 May 2016 - 24 Jun 2016  Sook Myung Womne’s University Museum.
Seoul, South Korea
Symposium  16 May 2016 - 24 Jun 2016  Emboided hosted by UW-Milwaukee Jewelry & Metals.
ZOOM symposium, UWM Art History Gallery, Milwaukee, WI, U.S.A.
Exhibition  16 May 2016 - 09 Jul 2016  Poom. Power of Gentleness.
Exhibition  25 Feb 2016 - 28 Feb 2016  Art Now Fair Represented by Charon Kransen.
Miami Beach Convention Center, Miami Beach FL, U.S.A.
Exhibition  20 Feb 2016 - 28 Mar 2016  Korea NOW! Korean Crafts & Design in Munich 2016.
Exhibition  19 Feb 2016 - 27 Mar 2016  Complex into Simple: Korean Craft & Design.
Bayerisches Nationalmuseum,  Munich, Germany
Exhibition  15 Jan 2016 - 01 Mar 2016  No Boundaries: Art as Jewelry, Jewelry as Art.
Exhibition  06 Dec 2015 - 20 Feb 2016  End of Year Exhibition.
Exhibition  03 Oct 2015 - 07 Nov 2015  The New Textiles: Transformed.
Exhibition  29 May 2015 - 06 Jul 2015  Contemplastic.
Exhibition  05 Mar 2015 - 17 Apr 2015  Naturaficial: The Jewelry of Yong Joo Kim and Yoshie Enda.
Exhibition  30 Aug 2014 - 05 Oct 2014  Cominelli Foundation Award for Contemporary Jewellery Exhibition.
Exhibition  16 May 2014 - 30 Jun 2014  Remarkable Contemporary Jewellery.
Exhibition  02 May 2014 - 19 Jul 2014  Yong Joo Kim: 2014 SAC Artist Awards Exhibition.
Exhibition  13 Mar 2014 - 16 Mar 2014  Suspend.ed in Green.
Exhibition  07 Dec 2013 - 31 Jan 2014  Objects of Status, Power & Adornment Part II.
Meeting  01 Nov 2013 - 01 Nov 2013  Yong Joo Kim scheduled to speak at SOFA Chicago.
Exhibition  15 Aug 2013 - 28 Sep 2013  Yong Joo Kim: Spotlight.
Exhibition  17 Jul 2013 - 17 Aug 2013  Seams | Seems.
Award  06 Mar 2013 - 12 Mar 2013  Talente Competition 2013.
Exhibition  03 Oct 2012 - 24 Oct 2012  Signs of Life 2012.
Exhibition  01 Oct 2012 - 07 Oct 2012  Yong Joo Kim at Simple Matter(s).
Exhibition  13 Jun 2012 - 01 Jul 2012  Yong Joo Kim and Aki Ichiriki: Twist.
Exhibition  20 Apr 2012 - 23 Apr 2012  Yong Joo Kim at SOFA New York.
Exhibition  16 Feb 2012 - 31 Mar 2012  International Jewellery - based on readymades.
Exhibition  22 Nov 2011 - 30 Nov 2011  Yong Joo Kim: Reconfiguring the Ordinary.
Exhibition  19 Aug 2011 - 21 Aug 2011  Yong Joo Kim: Reconfiguring the Ordinary.
Exhibition  20 Oct 2010 - 26 Oct 2010  LOOT! 2010.

Publications      View / hide publications

Book:  Showcase 500 Rings. New Directions in Art Jewelry. Metcalf, Bruce; Le Van, MartheLark Books:  Asheville,  2023
Book:  New Necklaces: 400+ Contemporary Designs. Nicolas EstradaPromopress:  United Kingdom,  2016
Magazine:  One Medium, Many Moves. Joyce LovelaceAmerican Craft Council:  2015
Book:  Jewelbook. International Annual of Contemporary Jewel Art 12/13. Van Damme, JaakStichting Kunstboek:  Oostkamp,  2012