Art Work of Kyenan Kum

Kyenan Kum is a Korean American Artist who lives in Oakland California. Kyenan's Artwork is best described as following in the Realist Tradition of the Renaissance Masters and modern painters. Kyenan Kum grew up in Daegu City South Korea. Kyenan began painting in the 1960's. In 1974, she moved to New York and enrolled in the Fashion Institute of Technology to study illustration, but switched one year later to fine arts and graduated in 1977. Then Kyenan moved to California in 1978 to attend the California College of Arts and Crafts and graduated in 1982 with a MFA degree. Kyenan had many productive years of painting until 1989, when she dropped everything and temporarily moved to South Korea to help her sister Sunnan try to stop increasingly worse abuse and exploitation of companion animals. Kyenan moved back to Oakland California in 1996 and founded International Aid for Korean Animals (IAKA), which supports her organization in Korea called the Korea Animal Protection and Education Society (KAPES). Today, Kyenan is committing herself to her artwork once more and hopes to have many productive years of painting ahead of her. As you will see, Kyenan combines much of her love of life and animals in her artwork.

Artists Statement

Contemporary scenes, lifestyles, environment, and ambiances encompass the subject matter of my work.

The processes of acculturation are among the forces influencing me as an artist. As a child in Korea, I made an effort to learn a great deal about western culture. I received my early education in Korea where western culture was taught in the schools side by side with Korean. At the same time, due to familial influences, I made an effort to learn even more of western culture, through independent study, using the very limited resources on hand. The American presence in Korea, during and after the Korean War, also offered a powerful and attractive contrast to my traditional native culture. These processes of acculturation have therefore become a definitive part of my life; my migration to the west and my matriculation into American art schools. The combination of these influences has accordingly had the effect of inclining me toward the western art.

My exposure to western art was mostly through the Great Masters of pre-twentieth century Europe. It is in imitation of these artists that the strongest influence was, and is, exerted on my development as an artist. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that I paint within the western tradition, rather than the East Asian.

When I first encountered the contemporary art scene in the United States, I experienced some confusion and disappointment; my inclination toward the work of the Great Masters seemed out of place and time. Attempts at various aspects of modern art never met with satisfaction. I returned to what I truly like - realism. Therefore, I have since been attempting to paint in a manner approximating the realistic approach of the Renaissance Masters, incorporating modern realism as one tool to this approach. Contemporary scenes, life-styles, environment, and ambiences encompass the subject matter of my work. My solution has been to paint what I truly like - realism.

More recently, I have been applying this approach to nature scenes. I feel that all kinds of animal and plant life are an integral part of me and of our earth. Therefore, I hope that expressing their existence and spirit through the process of painting will help me in my life to move towards growth, balance, and nurture.