Artist Spotlight: Kimin Kang

Meet the artist illustrating her future
Artist Spotlight: Kimin Kang
Pictured Left: Kimin Kang and her art teacher Nicole Cole at the January 28 Emerging Artist Art Show and Award Ceremony

Emotions are a universal language and though complex in form, art has the potential to be the translator.

— Kimin Kang

From the humble beginnings of sketching in the margins of notebooks, making chalk art on driveways and sidewalks, even scribbling on bedroom walls, many people first experience art with the simple act of doodling. For most, these scribbles remain just that. However, for the few who decide to continue their craft, scribbles on pages evolve into lasting passions.

Senior Kimin Kang, too, began her journey with casual doodles. But her doodles have since blossomed into a portfolio of award-winning artwork across different media. 

In January, Kang represented NVOT at the 36th annual Art Administrators of NJ Emerging Artists Gallery at Kean University after being nominated by a panel of NVOT art teachers. According to art teacher Nicole Cole, the decision to nominate Kang was a unanimous one. “We are particularly impressed by her unique artistic vision, technical proficiency, and her ability to consistently push boundaries in her work,” Cole said. “Her dedication to her art and her willingness to experiment with different techniques, and new concepts made her a standout candidate for nomination.” 

Pictured Left: Kimin Kang and her art teacher Nicole Cole at the January 28 Emerging Artist Art Show and Award Ceremony (Courtesy of Nicole Cole)
Pictured Right: Kimin Kings award-winning acrylic on canvas artwork recognized for its excellence in cubism at the American Art Awards.

Cole continued, “I have had the privilege of witnessing Kimin’s growth and development as an artist and student firsthand. She approaches her work with a remarkable level of creativity, passion, and attention to detail whether it be an acrylic painting or a portrait photograph. Her ability to translate her ideas into compelling visual narratives in any medium is truly commendable.”

And this was only her most recent recognition. 

Kang has won international awards for her art, including first place in the “Cubism” category at the 2023 American Art Awards for her acrylic on canvas piece Danger: Fragile. Kang’s work was chosen from 2,000 submissions across all categories from 72 countries. Previously, she won sixth place in the “Futurism” category at the 2022 American Art Awards.

Discover the story behind Danger: Fragile and Kang’s other pieces in the gallery at the end.

Pictured Right: Kimin King’s award-winning acrylic on canvas artwork recognized for its excellence in cubism at the American Art Awards. (Kimin Kang)
Pictured Left: See the full list of the awards Kimin Kang won for her artwork across high school.

Kang started taking art classes at NVOT her freshman year, but it wasn’t until sophomore year that Kang saw the potential in her hobby and started to seriously hone her artistic skills—whether that be spending extra hours in the studio or trying out a new medium to diversify her range. Kang has since amassed a number of art electives under her belt: Drawing Painting and Mixed Media, AP Drawing, AP 2-D Art and Design, AP Art History, and Digital Photography.

Kang’s work is largely inspired by her own emotions; art has become a medium for her to visualize often complex feelings and ideas. “I try to make art that is emotional and relatable to a general audience,” Kang said. “Emotions are a universal language and though complex in form, art has the potential to be the translator. It gives me the ability to bring my feelings into visual representation.”

It’s not just her teachers that see her artistic expression; her classmates similarly appreciate her work. Junior Sumin Choi said, “Kimin’s pieces require you to really think, and she portrays the concept of the meaning really nicely. She’s inspiring as an artist.”

While Kang works on her art inside and outside of school, she dedicated the most time when she was crafting her portfolio. At her peak of college applications, Kang found herself in the studio for at least three hours a day finishing portfolio pieces. However, Kang largely enjoyed the process, even finding herself stretching out her painting sessions to the entire day. “When I’m having fun, I just spend my whole day painting,” Kang said.

And her work clearly paid off: Kang will be heading to Northeastern University in the fall. There, she intends to double major in fine arts and psychology, with the eventual goal of becoming an art therapist or an art teacher.

Pictured Left: See the full list of the awards Kimin Kang won for her artwork across high school.
Take a look at more of Kang’s artwork and read her breakdown of each piece.
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  • “Lover’s Quarrel” | “This project is a portrayal of the complexity in relationships. It depicts the pain and sacrifices made by using one person to convey feelings to another at the end. It shows people’s emotional pain with the interconnection in between. I used wood mannequins to get the reference picture and started painting with acrylic paint. I had a black background at first to make the piece dark and moody, but I changed to white because I wanted the subject to pop out more. I added two separate hearts at the corner for the background and to add more colors to the piece. I painted the strings with blue and red in acrylic to represent the veins and punched holes in the heart on canvas to connect each one.” — Kimin Kang

  • “Danger: Fragile” | “Breaking into pieces easily, we call it fragile. I was a person who shattered into pieces easily like fragile glass. The fear of hurting others with my sharp pieces who wish to support and comfort was translated into this art piece. The film shows why I shattered into pieces, in this case, nostalgia for missing my childhood. I decided to paint another glass with a face, before breaking it into pieces and adding the film strips to add the flow and lines of the piece. I also put pictures in the film with ProCreate, working digitally. I thought of putting film strips at the very end which was a good choice because it really filled the empty space of the piece as well as the flow that was missing. It let me show my personal struggle of hiding my fragility and wanting to open up, but I run away, scared of the pain I cause to others who care about me.” — Kimin Kang

  • “Family Portrait” | “It’s a family portrait of my dad’s family when he was three. It’s a meaningful piece for me because I got to draw all my family members on my dad’s side, especially my grandfather. It’s my second oil painting piece, so it was a new medium I got to use. I wanted to draw my grandpa to gift him because when I went to Korea he was just so caring, and I feel like I never gave anything to him before and that would be meaningful.” — Kimin Kang

  • “Insomnia” | “It was hard to sleep with the loud voices in my head. This artwork captures the struggle of insomnia, where overthinking dominates your rest at night. I used my own experience, wanting to take my brain out by a zipper on my head, desire to get rid of an overactive brain and have a deep peaceful sleep. I first sketched on my sketchbook to express my desire to take out my overworking brain and then took a reference picture of my friend on the bed to start painting. This was my very first acrylic painting, and therefore I started with very flat colors, then added details which took longer by keeping painting over the parts I was not satisfied with. After finishing this piece, I learned the importance of highlights and shadows in painting and over blending can hurt the piece instead. I also could express my struggle visually, something hard to verbalize.” — Kimin Kang

  • “Temperature” | “This piece is to show the technical skills I have with small details and color. The idea that we can not see each person’s temperature inside shows we can not judge someone by their appearance. They may be cold, lonely, distant figure who needs warmth, a person who can share empathy and understanding for others. I collaged different people walking around the streets and transferred the collage into a thermal camera filter. I started with yellow, then green, light blue, dark blue, and red with layers. I had fun making this piece with small details and a small canvas, unlike my usual techniques. I learned the importance of layers of paint and the step-by-step process of creation.” — Kimin Kang

  • “Trapped in a Vicious Cycle” | “An endless cycle of hatred and feeling trapped, tired of repeating days. I would wake up every morning, go to school, come back, do homework, sleep, and repeat the next day. This piece conveys the feeling of being ensnared in a vicious cycle of responsibilities. The moss and ropes represent the natural desire for change and the weight of feeling tied up, trapped, and unable to free myself. I took a reference picture of a room surrounded by mirrors and started drawing on the cardboard. I then painted the vase of the grass with green and glued fake moss and grass with Elmer’s glue on top. I then twisted and braided thin ropes together to make thicker ropes of different lengths on the side. This piece was my first mixed media and let me experience the beauty of using different mediums. It allowed me to visually describe my sense of feeling trapped and the desire for change and freedom from this cycle.” — Kimin Kang

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