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Glass artist Kim Ki-ra creates houses that lead to heaven

Installation view of “The Stairs into My Memory” at Gallery Sklo in Seoul (Gallery Sklo)
Installation view of “The Stairs into My Memory” at Gallery Sklo in Seoul (Gallery Sklo)


Artist Kim Ki-ra is part of a generation of glass artists in South Korea to have pursued glass art over the past 40 years. The exhibition “The Stairs into My Memory” at Gallery Sklo in central Seoul showcases 30 new glass works inspired by homes.

“Glass is a two-faced material. It can last long like a phoenix, but it is easily broken to pieces once it is hit by an impact. Glass is transparent, but it can be obscure,” Kim told The Korea Herald on Wednesday.

With the sunlight light streaming into the gallery, the small glass houses on display near the window shined with their transparency. Some of them were lacquered with colors, becoming translucent houses that keep secrets.

Kim brought interior elements of stairs and windows to the glass house. The staircase leads to a window that connects to the world outside: The world can be whatever the viewers imagine, even heaven. 

“Memory 7” by Kim Ki-ra (Gallery Sklo)
“Memory 7” by Kim Ki-ra (Gallery Sklo)

Kim started to delve into glass houses in 2003 after her parents passed away, exploring what a house means to her. Her new works feature open windows that her previous works did not have.

“I would walk up the stairs to reach the window, wondering what may appear at the end of the stairs. Maybe I could look back on the time while walking up the stairs,” Kim said, letting her finger climb the stairs, as if the finger represented herself.

“You become quite humble when you think of your death, the moment you leave things behind. The ‘memory’ in the title of the exhibition can be something like a ‘panorama’ that is said to appear before you close your eyes,” she added.

Kim said she enjoyed creating her works this time more than ever, which was a journey of discovering the thoughts and images hidden inside her that she did not even realize existed. The stairways and windows came into being although she had not planned them.

Born in Incheon in 1959, Kim studied ceramics at Hongik University and earned an MAE and BFA in glass from the Rhode Island School of Design. She was a full-time instructor of the MFA glass program at Kookmin University in Seoul, Korea from 1991 to 2021.

The exhibition runs through May 7 at Gallery Sklo in Seoul, the first gallery to specialize in glass works when it opened in 2003.

Gallery Sklo will showcase Kim’s glass works at Kiaf Seoul in September.

By Park Yuna (yunapark@heraldcorp.com)
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