Studio Visit: Kakyoung Lee

01-1_Kakyoung and prints

Kakyoung in her studio

Kakyoung Lee is a Korean artist based in Brooklyn, New York.  I have known her since we were both first-year college students in the printmaking department at Hong-Ik University in Seoul, Korea.  20 years later, somehow we both ended up in the US, and are still making prints.  I admit, I am getting a bit nostalgic, and even though Kakyoung and I both live in the US, it had been years since I saw her.  So, when I recently made a trip to New York City for a few days, I called her up and spent an afternoon with Kakyoung in her studio in the Red Hook area of Brooklyn.

Kakyoung’s cozy studio space is filled with stacks of prints, small video installations, and set-ups for works in progress.  Below are two small temporary installations in Kakyoung’s studio.  The one on the right, titled Window View is a projection onto a window drawn on the wall with graphite.  Close up, you can see crowds of people, busily walking in Grand Central Terminal.

Kakyoung first captures everyday, mundane events in video.  She then deconstructs them into stills and laboriously translates them into drypoint prints or drawings, which are reconstructed into short animated videos.

I was delighted to see one of her newest works in progress titled Hana’s Ride.  The process of this work began with video footage taken of Kakyoung’s daughter, Hana, learning to ride a bike.  This video footage had been broken down into several sequences of moments in preparation for tracing.  Using drypoint, each frame of Hana’s Ride is scratched onto a thick sheet of Plexi and then printed, resulting in 327 prints.

The plan for the animation

Drypoint on Plexi

Close up of the drypoint on Plexi

Hardworking little press

Stacks of prints for animation

An installation view of prints from “Hana’s Ride”

And here is a short preview of Kakyoung’s new animation Hana’s Ride.  

All of her animated prints require several hundred printed images in order to make an animation that lasts a minute or two.  Her videos are often installed alongside of the actual prints that made the animations.  I got to have a little private viewing of her animated prints, and here are some of my favorites!

Viewing “Dance, Dance, Dance,” in Kakyoung’s studio

This piece titled Dance, Dance, Dance, is a collaboration with sound artist Natacha Diels.  It was also made into a beautiful portfolio, which includes a selection of prints from the animation and a DVD.

Another drypoint animation titled Walk featuring Kakyoung and her two young daughters.  It was also cleverly made into a beautiful flip book!

“Walk” flip book

Some of her animations are made using graphite drawings, such as this one titled The Crossing Series.  Layers and layers of graphite drawings and erasings capture a brief moment as crowds of people wait to cross a street.  Then people flood towards each other, and their movements create a web of drawn lines as they try to navigate through the crowd.

Viewing “The Crossing Series” in Kakyoung’s studio

A little mock-up for the video installation

Kakyoung continuously explores and presents these moments in thoughtful and interesting ways.

In this video, Kakyoung features her own family.   Using images of herself along with her two little girls and the voice of her husband, she portrays a family trying to take a photograph. It is both intimate and endearing.

Finally, in another corner of Kakyoung’s studio, there is a set up for a new project in process.  On the left wall, you can see photos and sketches for the planned animation, and the small spotlighted area on the right is where Kakyoung is repeatedly drawing and erasing sequences of images of people hiking up a mountain.

There are many more videos on Kakyoung’s Vimeo site here, and more prints, drawings, and installations can be seen on her website here.  Kakyoung is represented by Ryan Lee Gallery in New York.

Thanks for a wonderful afternoon, Kakyoung!




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Categories: Artists, Studio Visit

2 Responses to “Studio Visit: Kakyoung Lee”

  1. luca cruzat says:

    Enjoyable post. Great work.

  2. […] little by little to reconstruct the "layers of everydayness".The rigorous, repetitive tracing method is crucial in Lee's mission to maintain an "objective" and "nonfiction" approach. Each piece takes […]