Nanyoung Kim - Artist Statement

My artistic medium was originally ceramic sculpture. I used clay slabs to build architectural forms and spaces. Sometimes, I would put a lone figure or two to tell a human story. My deep interest in history led me to explore some universal themes through architectural forms.

However, due to the logistics of ceramic work and my frequent foreign travels, I switched my medium to photography. I found my subject in 2007 while I traveled through Auvergne, the central mountainous region of France. It was Romanesque architecture. Romanesque architecture is a style of architecture characterized by ancient Roman architectural motifs, such as arches, columns, and vaults, and flourished in church buildings in the 11th century. As a student of art I had read about it and seen the pictures of Romanesque churches, but encountering them was a totally different experience. They were beautiful. Thus began my Romanesque journey.

During several summer and winter trips I visited probably over hundred Romanesque churches in France, Italy, and Spain and took pictures of these sacred spaces. Many of them are located in remote places because they were built as monastery churches. I found that the usual descriptions found in art history books, such as stone vaults, thick walls, small windows, and dark interiors, did not do justice to the real experience of them. They emphasized the physical and technical limitations of the period, not what the medieval builders achieved with these confinements.

The more I saw, the more I was amazed by the creativity and design sensitivity of the medieval architects who built them. Not many people know about them. Thus, my photographs of Romanesque churches are invitations to linger in imagination on these remote, hidden, quiet, beautiful, and sacred spaces.

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