Saliim Projects Is First Asian-Owned Art Gallery In Delaware County
Inaugural Exhibit Features Two Korean Artists
by Melissa Jacobs
Daye Kim used to look at vacant buildings the way that some women look at carbs, world travel, or Brad Pitt. She’d play the “what if” game, daydreaming wistfully about turning one of the vacant spaces into an art gallery. But then a honking car horn would bring Kim back to the reality of the pick-up line at Delaware County Christian School. Kim’s two kids would pile into the car, swiftly transporting Kim back to mom life. “I love being a mom and wife,” Kim says. “But I always dreamed about opening my art gallery.”
Kim’s background is in art curation. She worked in art galleries in New York’s Upper East Side and in Chelsea before moving to West Chester with her husband and kids in 2019. Since then, she’s made Chester County her home, traveling up and down West Chester Pike every day, until one day, she saw a vacant space at 3715 West Chester Pike. Its location is perfect – just off Newtown Street Road near Ellis Preserve shopping center in the row of low-slung buildings that hold other small businesses. “That was the right space,” Kim says. “I just knew that was the place.”
Now, Kim’s dream of owning an art gallery is coming true. Saliim Project’s inaugural exhibition is now open and runs through April 2. Titled Ora Et Labora (Latin for prayer and labor), the show features the work of Soukjin Park and Hayeong Kang, both Korean female artists. “We will not always show Asian art, and in fact I have other artists booked for the rest of the year,” Kim says. “But I wanted to start with these two women artists because I love their work.”
Born in Korea, Soukjin Park studied at the Art Institute of Chicago and received her MFA from Cranbrook Academy in Michigan. She now lives in Georgia, but the work she’s showing at Saliim is rooted in the time she spent in Korea, working on her family’s farm after the sudden death of her mother. There, Park wove what became her I Am Farmer series. “This work is an extension of myself, an articulation of my emotions and memories of that farm and the restoration of my identity as an artist,” she said.
Multi-media artist Hayeong Kang lives in South Korea, where she created My Mother’s Home, a series of photographs and fabric sculptures. Printed on traditional hanji, or mulberry paper, the black-and-white photos depict the nature surrounding Korea’s Gangwon province, from blooming flowers to dilapidated structures. “There is a moment and a scenery that starts a conversation with me, and I am trying to capture them,” Kang says.
Park and Kang have been friends with Kim for nearly a decade. But Kim selected them as her debut artists because they are women, mothers, wives and daughters – and artists. “It’s the same journey for me to love my children and my husband but want to find time and space for my creative side,” Kim said. “This art gallery represents all of that, and I wanted this to be its first exhibit.”
What Kim doesn’t want it is to be known as an Asian art gallery. Although born in Korea, Kim came to the U.S. when she was 17 and has been here ever since. Still, she is the first Asian-American to open an art gallery in Delaware County. “I’m proud of my heritage, but this will be a gallery for all artists and everyone who loves art,” she said.
Saliim Projects is open Tuesday – Friday, 8:30 am – 2:30 pm and by appointment. Saliim Projects is hosting an open house for artist Soukjin Park on Sat., March 11 from 3 pm – 8 pm. For more information, visit Saliim Project’s website.
What else is happening in our region? Read about King of Prussia Restaurant Week, Chester County consignment stores, and new changes coming to Valley Forge National Park.
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