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New Acquisition: A Vibrant Quilt by Woomin Kim

by Cynthia Amneus, Chief Curator | Curator of Fashion Arts and Textiles


Woomin Kim , quilt , Shijang Project , Korean Market , Fashion Arts & Textiles , Curatorial Blog

We recently acquired a work by Woomin Kim, a young Korean-born artist who lives and works in Queens, New York. This quilt or fabric collage, titled Shijang: Shoe Store II, is a polychromatic extravaganza constructed of different materials—including fabrics of all types, glass beads, synthetic fur, yarns, and clothing labels—depicting different kinds of footwear, from boots to sneakers to slippers. It’s evident that Kim delights in turning everyday objects and found materials into something as mundane as the pattern inside a boot or a pair of shoes.

The quilt is part of the artist’s Shijang Project, a collection of separate quilts where each represents a different vendor’s stall scene in the street markets common to Korea. When shown as a group, Kim’s quilts tend to hang together—right next to each other—reenacting the vibrancy and lively energy of an actual market. Her installation presents a different view of Korean and Asian marketplaces in opposition to the dominant (stereotypical and xenophobic) Western narratives describing the Eastern market as a dark and dangerous place. Instead, Kim, through her quilts, tells a different story from her own perspective and experience: the Asian market landscape as colorful, vibrant, and celebratory.  

“[The market] is the place that I used to go all the time growing up. And whenever I visit Korea, it’s one of the first places I go,” says Kim. “In my quilts, I describe the different kinds of merchants, stores, and materials that you can see in these kinds of open-air markets. It’s such a vibrant place, with a fish market next to a fabric market and all different kinds of energy.”