A member of the Rockella Space community since 2017, Jean Rim has thrived within the unique community that has developed at Brown Bears Studios. She is a visual artist working in a distinct process using paint and a carving tool.
We interviewed Jean about her creative process, life at Rockella Space, and how she navigates life as a working artist.
Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Jean Rim. I am from South Korea and am an artist who carves out the surfaces of paintings. I grew up in two cities, NYC and Seoul. My teenage years were all about NYC. I moved back to the United States 11 years ago. NYC is my core and center. This city raised me. With the good and the ugly, I am grateful she always takes good care of me.
You have a unique approach to your work. Can you describe your process?
Before anything, I perform rituals in the studio that involve cleansing surfaces I am about to work on. I work on wood and panels and see what the new paintings want to radiate. Once that is established, I layer the surface with multiple layers of enamel paint. Once those layers dry, I bring out different size chisels. I tend to go in concentric circles that result in an organic pattern that forms. Once it is finished and little tweaks are made, I do a closing ceremony and ask for the right home and space to come.
List three words that best describe your painting.
Sacred, carved, and beautiful.
How long have you had a studio with Rockella Space at Brown Bears Studios?
I came when there were no walls just a blueprint and I think it must be 6 years.
What does it mean to you to have a studio space at Rockella Space?
An affordable studio space in NYC is a gift. I feel so lucky to have this little oasis and the management has made amazing upgrades through the years and taken good care of the building which is great. And during Covid days we were lucky our spaces were open and I had somewhere to go. I bless the building every time I go.
What is the best part of having a studio at Rockella Space?
The community. It is always in flux and different people weave in and out but I love the neighbors. We always look out for each other and it is awesome. I get an inside view of NYC art scene. It is where some miracles are created!
What has inspired your creative journey?
My creative journey has been inspired by my meditation practice, my spiritual journey and asian art, the visual art world it is a place we do not always have to use words.
What do you want people to feel when experiencing your work?
Serenity and awe.
What is the most difficult part about being an artist?
There is no boss, there is no guide. It is all up to oneself to cheer oneself on and to build and walk the path. Sometimes it can feel very vast and ungrounded but then I have to focus and just be present on the NOW which is to keep painting and carving.
Who are your favorite artists?
Always changing! Big Fan right now Betye Saar, Cecily Brown, Lee Bul, Kim SooJa, Valerie Hagerty, Mark Bradford, right now the roof of the Met Museum has Lauren Halsey who I am totally crushing on.
And what is the thing that you have done that you are most proud of?
I hired a consultant who helped me to ground. And the last few years I have been getting very clear on what I want to say. What I am making and understanding the business aspect of the art world. I could continue with bliss mode in the studio but as I creep closer to 50 I want to be financially secure through my artwork. So the journey begins and I am learning.
What is your hope for artists?
We are the shamans, the representatives who reflect, explain, and show the world what is happening around us. We all have our journeys and we must keep fighting to be part of the world. As the war flares and continues in Ukraine & Sudan it is amazing to see artists continue to work and share in all the ways. We have to keep manifesting our dreams and explore them, support them. And sometimes you don’t have to be making something to be an artist.
What are your future plans? Any upcoming exhibitions or events where people can see your work?
I am represented by J Nunez Gallery, NJ and it was a lovely way to start 2023. I have a few pieces at the gallery on view now. Jesus the gallery owner just interviewed with me this week. I am part of an important exhibition at Pearl River Mart, NYC, May is AAPI month so it is amazing to be included, it is called “Just Between Us”. it will open May 4 – August 27, 2023.