mixed media collage with paper cut outs around black and white pencil drawingImage provided by artist Christine Kim.

“What’s in a face that makes it the nail on which we hang our ideas about people?”

My work speaks to themes of uncertainty, tension and unease that come with being uprooted, confronting borderlines, and questioning your place in the world.  In my illustrations, I focus on androgynous figures because of their position – they fit anywhere and nowhere. They are shrouded in mystery and ambiguity. So much of our understanding of others hinges on the face and the gesture; however, I am interested in what we do not know, what is hidden.

This body of work is inspired by Nathanial Hawthorne’s short story entitled “The Minister’s Black Veil”; his writing investigates a minister whose dark, inner struggles have materialized in a black veil.  It becomes a symbolic reminder of the darkness within everyone.  In this series of graphite portraits, I am interested in exploring the contrast between light, fragile lace and the gravity of darkness. Figures are concealed in black lace, which is worn like fleeting shadows or permanent tattoos.  Usually worn at funerals, black lace is a symbol of death, mourning, and sorrow.  There is mystery created by the concealment; the lace is a fence that prevents outsiders from entering.  These faces are obscured, ambiguous, but they may yet be known.

Various works of drawings of androgynous people with paper cut outs around the work and hanging down from ceiling
Artist hand holding cutouts of some of her drawings of a little boy
Woman holding up a piece of paper like a veil with her profile as a shadow behind
Above black & white photographs of Christine Kim and her studio by Leah Snyder for Mixed Bag Mag.

I’m interested in portraiture because of how much hinges on the face. I’m inspired by what is seen by the viewer as well as what is hidden. One quote comes to mind –

“And what’s in a face, anyhow, except the uncomplicated story of a man? What’s in a face that makes it the nail on which we hang our ideas about people?” (Rick Moody, The Black Veil, 6)

Pencil drawing of androgynous figure surronded with collage of butterfly wings, cut out black bird, chairs and Japanese paper prints.
Image provided by artist Christine Kim.

See more of Christine’s work on her website and her blog.

Series of four watercolour and ink self-portraits of artist sleeping
Image provided by artist Christine Kim.

Get ticket info for the show as well view all the participating artists at or follow along for updates @TAP_toronto &  #TAP13.

logo for Toronto Artist Project 2013 in dark blue with image of woman in profile with veil like cutout over her eyes