Architect Jei Jeeyea Kim brings lifelong passion for art to new project
IU professor Jei Jeeyea Kim unveiled her architecture piece, “LaWaSo Ground,” in late August in Columbus, Indiana.
Kim said she has had a passion for art since she was young and knew she wanted to do something artistic with her life. She said she considered graphic design and fashion design but landed on architecture.
This project was created for Exhibit Columbus, an annual architecture, art and design exploration within the Columbus community. This year’s exhibit’s theme is “New Middles: From Main Street to Megalopolis, What is the Future of the Middle City?” This theme signifies the Midwest and how cities like Columbus may move in a positive direction to destabilizing assumptions.
Kim said she would rather be called a designer or an architect than an artist.
“Honestly, we don’t consider ourselves as artists,” Kim said. “We were educated and trained as architects and designers. We would rather be called designers.”
Kim said she wanted to focus on the people which Columbus, Indiana, is named after: Christopher Columbus and indigenous peoples.
Kim said she wanted to focus on the middle of these two different cultures. She said she intended to focus on using Indiana limestone as a core material, tying back to colonial cultures and Native Americans from the area.
Kim’s new “LaWaSo Ground” project stands for land, water and soil. Kim said she focused on creating something with the land already there as a usable structure. This piece is built into the existing land, encompassing different patches of grass of different shades of green. Indiana limestone pieces lie arranged into a rectangle along the ground, such as benches built into the ground, allowing for visitors to sit or walk alongside the piece.
Kim said it was important to think about how people in the community will interact with this work. She said she will continue to explore other conceptual ideas of this project, but her audience is her main focus.
“One of the most important approaches for us to take is user experience,” Kim said.
Kim was trained as an architect in South Korea and attended graduate school at the University of California, Los Angeles. She decided to move to the United States after studying in Chicago as a part of a study abroad program.
Kim is an assistant professor in IU’s Eskenazi School of Art, Architecture and Design and is part of the J. Irwin Miller Architecture Program. She said she wants to help students discover their artistic talents.
“Especially in this generation of college kids, there are so many opportunities,” Kim said. “It might take a little longer to find out what you want to do.”