Loyal Dwelling-In-Waiting


His devoted quarters remained. The unmade bed, the bar of soap resting in its dish, everything as he had left them. He thought he was returning home and continue on as their keeper.

Upon arrival at the hospital, he noticed his faithful timepiece had stopped. His perpetual movement is what winds it, yet as he lay looking at its dial, all hands were at rest. Of all the years, hours, minutes and seconds of wearing it, not once did it fail him. He thought, was this an omen of coming times?


Letting loose in nature


My personal narrative did not include camping in the great outdoors until a few years ago. During my elementary school days, I recall going on a class camping trip and sleeping in tent. This memory is faint but I remember feeling damp from the rain.

I grew up in the orderly suburbs of Columbia and Ellicott City, Maryland as a second-generation American of Korean parents. My father had his time climbing the mountains during his youth. Later, he pitched tents with my mother and rode the wild rapids with his Canadian friends during his Ph.D. studies, but as soon as he immigrated to the U.S.A., those pursuits ended and I never had the chance to discover the joys of camping with him.



During my childhood, my father devoted himself to science inside the confines of his laboratory and lecture halls as he researched and taught students at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. There was no time to pack up a tent and go camping with us.


I was introduced to travel at a young age. My first overseas trip was to my parents’ homeland of South Korea on June 23, 1981. I was six years old.


I vividly remember the seemingly endless flight with Korean men smoking, the graceful Korean Air flight attendants kindly giving me snacks in the galley, the overwhelming smells of garlic and the familiar yet strange sounds of the Korean language. I visited Korea seven more times and eventually lived there, where I met my husband.

My husband was the one who introduced me to camping in the spring of 2013. It was the year we finally left Seoul for good and visited the States before moving to Australia later that summer. Our first camping trip was to the Salton Sea and Borrego Springs in California. I was 38 years old.


He, the veteran, and I, the novice, gathered basic gear and equipment for this trip. I learned about my self-imposed limitations and rigidness but became aware of my willingness to be more open.

I had to get loose and trust him and the experience.

Yesterday, we returned from our overnight trip to the Salton Sea. Three years later, we have refined our method and are continually retooling our system. Even now, I am still discovering my self-imposed limitations and willingness to improvise on the road.


I’m just letting it all hang out.




Term of Endearment

We are in the aftermath of the commercialization of Valentine’s Day but the mythology of Valentinius is fascinating nonetheless. I understand the cultural importance of our cherished holiday that causes husbands to run out to the store to buy flowers and a box of chocolates for their wives, and if she is lucky, a garland of diamonds to grace her body. The sentiment of these purchased expressions of love is sweet but part of the capitalistic machine. Please, do not get me wrong. I am all for supporting our local businesses, artisans and companies that we believe in but buyer beware.


Photo: Shannon Aston from his Field Notes

Earlier this year, I made the following piece, term of endearment, about my husband. He has been an avid surfer for over 26 years and is a marvelous swimmer, whom I think of as a pinniped.

The Korean word 여보, yeobo, means darling and is used between husbands and wives.

tumblr_o0smuvqOwh1r5w169o1_1280.jpgterm of endearment, Watercolor on Paper, 7.5 x 3.75 inch.,2016 © Katherine Hyunkyung Oh

Death and Resurrection by Rotating Blades

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As part of COOP, Inc., I conceived and executed a multi-media solo exhibition, Death and Resurrection by Rotating Blades, with New York City based artist Jean Rim at Space Hamilton in Seoul, South Korea, which was curated by Ji Yoon Yang, in August of 2010. The show explored fan death, an erroneous belief held by Koreans. It is believed that an electric fan left on overnight in a closed room can cause death by suffocation or hypothermia. A special fan dance with our rotating fan blades was performed by a professional Buchaechum dancer at the opening.

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A live performance piece was performed by me and Jean Rim, where we slept in the closed gallery with multiple fans running as an experiment to either credit or discredit the theory of fan death. The public was invited to view this experiment through the large front window of the gallery. We survived.

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Fan God IV.JPG
Fan Death Goddess IV, Acrylic, Ink and Adhesive Vinyl on Paper, 72 x 47 cm, Katherine Hyunkyung Oh, 2010©

Breakers Due

It was my husband‘s birthday a couple of days ago and I gave him this small painting as one of his gifts. I started this for him several years ago but neglected to finish it. “Breakers Due” is a tribute to his love for surfing and the ocean.


Breakers Due, Acrylic on Canvas, 20 x 20 cm., 2016©

Ajumma Universe

I’ve posted the Ajumma Universe series about what goes on inside the mind of the ajumma. Her inner world is her universe full of everyday concerns.

The first drawing was made on the day of a heatwave in California last year. I imagined what an ajumma would be concerned about: keeping herself and her family hydrated. Her solution to the heat? A large, juicy watermelon.


Quench, Ink on Paper and Digital, 8.5 x 11 inch., 2015©

Click onto Ajumma Universe to view the rest of the series.

Friends of Persephone

Before Persephone was kidnapped by her uncle and taken to the Underworld, she was picking flowers with her friends.








All work: Ink on Paper, 9 x 12 or 12 x 9 inches, Katherine Hyunkyung Oh, 2015©


Reflections is a series I created while working and living in Seoul, South Korea.

Gallivanting through space is a painting created with collected imagery and words from everyday life as well as past travels and future dreams. The word “skius” is a word from the language Tok Pisin, a creole language spoken in Papua New Guinea, and means “excuse me”. The woman wearing the gache is saying the word “musa“, the genus in which the banana plant is a part of, while traveling through layers of past recollections and dreams.


Gallivanting through space, Acrylic on Canvas, 50 x 50 cm, 2010 ©