Winning. | Young Ae Kim


Artwork by Young Ae Kim

September 12, 2021 - January 17, 2022

Visual Arts Center | Shultz Gallery 

The cutest reflection on our society you'll ever see. In this bright and, frankly, adorable exhibit, South Dakota State University Professor Young Ae Kim draws attention to social and political events with cute and relatable animals. You’ll be thoroughly entertained by these adorable characters, but take a closer look, and you will find poignant reflections on the last few years in our society and references lifted directly from media headlines.

Artist Statement:
Young Ae Kim draws attention to everyday events with images and words that we pass through time. Her interest in social and political events expanded in the Overwhelming Experience Series (2016) and the Winning Series (2020-2021). Kim’s work includes cute and adorable characters and fine details of the conspicuous to capture the unique truths within the content of each painting. Cuteness has a magical influence on people that is acceptable and desirable because its attractiveness is associated with youth and juvenile appearance, which activates motivation to care for such individuals. The subjects carry connotative messages that inspire people to look at the given contexts carefully and discover the deeper meanings while the illustrations are entertaining and enjoyable. 

Kim’s illustrated paintings draw upon her Asian childhood heroes from Studio Ghibli stories and characters like My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away. By creating characters that seem familiar, relatable and look like cute fuzzy stuffed animals. Regardless of age, people love to interact with cute characters. Her characters interact with people to develop empathy and self-reflection. Children may develop visual language and create their own characters while adults explore the connotative conspicuous messages considering the titles of paintings as they were pulled directly from contemporary media headlines and begin a dialog with the work and reflect on social and political events.

Artist Bio: 
“Art is to discover a question that has never been asked.” – Young Ae Kim

Young Ae Kim is a Graphic Designer, Associate Professor and a Graphic Design Program Coordinator of the South Dakota State University. Kim was born and raised in Seoul, Korea, with a population of 9.7 million people. Kim studied at the Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah, Georgia and received an MFA in Graphic Design. Currently, Kim is finishing up her dissertation in Human Factor Psychology at the University of South Dakota with a research interest in the influence of visual signals on intuitive and emotional user experiences. Kim has been practicing for over 20 years in the design industry as a professional designer internationally and has a wide range of partners including Samsung, LG, Baskin Robbins, Nike, Belvita, City Bank, Sanford Health, Hyundai and many more. Since Kim’s first solo exhibition in 2008, her work has been featured at Wide Open 9 (New York, New York), Brooklyn Waterfront Artist Coalition (Brooklyn, New York), Next Wave (New York, New York), Paper Gallery (Seoul, South Korea), Future History and Red Gallery (Savannah, Georgia), ACA Gallery (Atlanta, Georgia) and more.

Several of the pieces displayed in this gallery are available for purchase. For more information, please contact the Visual Arts Center at 605-731-2493 or