Soukjin Park & Hayeong Kang
Ora et Labora
February 13 – April 2, 2023
3715 West Chester Pike, Newtown Square

“Simply being persistent enough to devote a lifetime of effort to being a serious artist was a considerable accomplishment for a 19th century woman, when marriage and its concomitant domestic duties so often meant the end of even the most promising careers.”

– Linda Nochlin, “Women Artists after The French Revolution: Women artists 1550-1950,” Art in America, 1976

SALIIM PROJECTS is delighted to present its inaugural exhibition titled Ora et Labora, featuring works of two South Korea-born artists, Soukjin Park and Hayeong Kang. The exhibition will be on view from February 13 until April 2, 2023 at 3715 West Chester Pike, Newtown Square, Pennsylvania. 

Meaning ‘Prayer and Labor,’ Ora et Labora brings together two women artists and their work created over a period of a decade. Upon embarking on their journey into marriage and motherhood, both artists go on to spend the countless and nameless hours serving their young families at home. In a time that our culture today calls “leave,” the artists encounter exhaustion and fragility, but also find their artistic perspectives purified and expressions refined. This exhibition celebrates each artist’s distinctive, expressive language attained through years of introspection and artistic endeavor.  

Soukjin Park, I am a farmer: Joong 1, 2019, 30 x 30 in, Indian Ink and Oil Paint on Wooden Panel.

Soukjin Park

In Park’s I am a Farmer series, Park uses a fountain pen with Indian ink to painstakingly weave one fine stroke to another. The laborious collection of delicate knots renders undulating rhythm while subtle nuance of light coalesces into visually intense abstractions. Evoking cultural and artistic traditions such as lace making and crochet knitting, Park’s industrious and instinctive mark-making is an articulation of her soul as her abstract landscape becomes the visualization of the inner workings of her mind.

Following the sudden death of her mother in 2014, Park relocated with her husband and two children from New York City back to her family farm in a remote, idyllic town in southeastern Korea. Between long hours of arduous, but rewarding labor in the farm alongside her widowed father and taking care of her young children, Park weaved bags and clothes – a place of healing, contemplation and artistic expression. 

The complex layers of emotions from her experience on the farm as a young mother are interwoven within her atmospheric oeuvre – her scars from struggling through the fatigue and stress of the farm and house work blended with her recollection of the rewarding harvest of raspberries, the smell of cherry tomatoes in the greenhouse, and the picturesque memories of her young children on the farm.  “This work is an extension of myself – an articulation of my emotions and memories on that farm and the restoration of my identity as an artist” says Park. 

(Left) I am a farmer: Joong 3, 2021, 18 x 24 in, Indian Ink and Oil Paint on Wooden Panel. 

(Right) Detail image of I am a farmer: Joong 3

Hayeong Kang, My Mother’s Home: #031030, 2022, ink print on mulberry paper, 8×10 in, Limited Edition of 50. Signed by the Artist.

Hayeong Kang

Residing and working in South Korea, Kang knits, sews and weaves as she films, photographs, and sculpts, exploring the boundaries of decorative and fine arts. Consisting of 11 monochrome photographs and various fabric sculptures, My Mother’s Home encapsulates her multidisciplinary practice that explores the themes of renewal and rebirth, temporality and fragility of human existence.

Having lived and studied video art in Paris, Kang presents an emotionally-charged, poetic impressions of life which encompasses East Asian aesthetics and Western sensibilities. Printed in traditional hanji, or mulberry paper, the black-and-white sceneries of nature in a deep mountain village in Gangwon province in Korea turn into a moralizing landscape that echoes the art historical genres of the seventeenth-century Dutch landscape and still-life. As images of the dilapidated house, the scallop plate raised above debris, or tattered cassette tapes remind viewers of the ephemeral nature of life, the blooming cotton flower and snow covered buds offer a promise of hope and renewed life. 

# 031030 features a ruined hanok in a rustic village. Whether it is the cadenced geometric form of a broken window or the oscillating shadows in a shattered door, Kang’s sceneries harness a vibrant and textural beauty that hovers between representation and abstraction; they are simultaneously ethereal and earthly, mundane and foreign, serene and full of life.

Kang approaches reality with a purity of emotions, awe and reverence. Any place that surrounds her, whether it is in the ordinary scene of her living room or the majestic mountainside of her mother’s hometown, becomes her sanctuary for prayer, contemplation and source material. “There is a moment and a scenery that starts a conversation with me, and I am trying to capture them.” says Kang. 

Hayeong Kang, Journals: #079370, 2022, ink print on mulberry paper, 8×10 in, Limited Edition of 50. Signed by the Artist.

About the Artists

Soukjin Park (b.1983) lives and works in Suwanee, Georgia. After earning her BFA in textile arts at Hongik University in Seoul, Korea and studying at the Art Institute of Chicago, Park received her MFA in Fiber Art at the Cranbrook Academy in Michigan. 

Born and raised in Korea, Hayeong Kang (b.1981) studied video art at Ecole National Superieure d’arts de Paris-Cergy in Paris, France. She currently resides and works in Seoul, Korea.