Born March 27, 1953, to Eunhee Cha and Kyungrae Kim, in Busan on the southern tip of Korea.
After the ending of Korean War, moves to Seoul on her first birthday. Kim, the second oldest of eight children, two boys and six girls was raised in a Korean, Christian family that included two grandmothers. Following a Korean tradition of the time, dressed briefly as a boy to secure the birth of a male child. Her father, the journalist and managing editor of Kyung Hyang Daily newspaper, was involved with photography as well as music, also esteemed by her mother, a piano player.
Her parents try to interest her in playing the piano. Surrounded by classical books about all the great men and women of the world, as well as music, Kim prefers to immerse herself in drawing Korean folk stories passed on by her grandmothers or the Christian bible stories that shaped the family’s disciplined daily existence. “Every morning we would be gathered round to read a couple of bible chapters. “I used to draw what we read, like King Solomon and stories about David.”
Enters Susong Grammar School in the center of Seoul. Encouraged by her primary school training and by her innate quietude, Kim illustrated daily personal and weather events in her diary. Despite her dislike for school, her talent for visual things became evident to her family and teachers. When selected for the “environment beautifying committee” her responsibilities included decorating classrooms and colorful arrangements for important extant birthday celebrations. ” In Korea, the first birthday of any child was accompanied by the biggest celebration especially if it was a boy, of course…I always had an eye for things, a talent or a slant.”
Graduated from Sook Myung Girls Middle School and entered Kyung Hee Girls High School where Korean art education was divided into eastern and wester study. Kim prefers the western tradition. Trained in a fairly western tradition that involved the rigorous discipline of artistic practices.” We drew one egg for a whole semester, two eggs next, such disciplined training made me far ahead of American students when I came to US in1972.”
Set up a studio in the family basement to study classical statues. Attended one of the best Korean art colleges, Hong-ik University, Seoul, for a year. Kim researched art schools abroad looking for broader perspectives and independence. Chose the United States for future study and is Is accepted by major US Universities. Studied English assiduously to prepare for TOEFL for potential acceptance.
Moved to the United States where she attended Illinois State University, Normal Illinois, which offers her the best scholarship opportunity.
Stops resisting the autobiographical nature of her true work and followed the advice of a teacher, Harold Boyd, when he advised her to make her diaristic daily visual notations the basis of her art. “He was instrumental teacher who opened the door to my instinctive, natural self.”
Began printmaking efforts. Read confessional poets including, Robert Bly and Sylvia Plath.
Earned Bachelor of Fine Arts in Ceramics from ISU, Normal Illinois. Visited Mashiko Japan, for apprenticeship with Hamada studio. Frustrated by the limitations of clay, continued her studies at ISU in printmaking. Apprenticed at Landfall Press, Chicago, Illinois with master printer, Jack Lemmon.
Translated her small book of sketches into larger drawings and paintings.
Earned Master of Fine Arts at ISU, Normal Illinois. Created her first US solo show. “Normal Experience” at the Center of Fine Arts, ISU from an installation two meters hight and thirty-six meters long, which covers the entire gallery, collected by The Museum of Contemporary Art, Seoul, Korea.
First key solo exhibition of prints and drawings shown at Myungdong Gallery, Seoul Korea. Her unique artistic vision, heralded by the critic O Kwangsoo “…an artist who has her own spirit is rooted in the universal” and the painter, Byun Chong Ha, among many others. Career boosted by the sale of over half the exhibition. Became renown on the Korean art scene.
Moved to 22 Warren Street a loft in Tribeca, New York, to live among other struggling artists such as, Peter Boucour, Tony Wong, Jennifer Bartlett, and Jan Hashy. Became sympathetic to the New Imagist Movement. Began work in Better Homes and Gardens office. Painted in the evening.
Decided to enclose her many sketches and drawing series into wooden boxes. Used the tops of boxes as the surface for paintings. Marylin Klonodidas brought her friend from the Drawing center to see her work. As a result, The Drawing Center showed her shadow series and other drawings. Brooke Alexander visited her studio and decided to show her work at his So-Ho Gallery. That show initiated others. Solo show of works at Gil Gallery, Seoul, Korea.
Worked as a freelance stylist for Apartment Life Magazine, as well as Macy and Bloomington catalog departments.
Becomes a United States citizen.
Carter Radcliff visited her studio and invited her (the only woman) to show in Illusion and Allegory show at Brooke Alexander Gallery along with New Imagists artists such as Richard Bosman, Ken Goodman, Thomas Lawson, Robert Longo and David Salle.
Met and married the son of a Korean missionary, Steve Linton, who is studying at Columbia University. Adopted two half Korean children Stone and Sheyli.
Began exploring wooden house shapes as a basis for painting emotional landscapes within the domestic sphere.
Invited by Curt Marcus to show her work in Episodes exhibition along with such artists as Mark Tansey, Robin Tewes, Ida Applebroog, and Don Baechler.
Works included in Black and White exhibition at MoMA, and Painting and Sculpture Biennial exhibition at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indiana.
First solo show at Brooke Alexander, who continued to represent her until 1985. Shown consistently in Korean galleries abroad.
Moves to 140th Street, Harlem and creates a top floor studio.
Begins global travels. Becomes enamored with Japanese culture.
Exhibits at Gallery Watari and INAX Gallery in Tokyo, Japan and Hanguk Museum, Seoul, Korea.
Shows at Hamburg Masse, Hamburg, Germany. Travels throughout Europe.
Galleries and museums around the world including New York, Chicago, Bulgaria, Korea, Bologna, Brazil, and Madrid exhibit Kim’s works,
Begins humanitarian work for orphanages and clinics in North Korea.
Museo of Contemporary Art, Mexico City shows her work. Travels to Mexico, visits Frieda Kahlo’s home.
Barry Blinderman, director of ISU galleries invites Kim to show her work with her teacher, Harold Boyd, in an exhibition, The Spirits Descending, at ISU, Normal Illinois.
Ministry of Culture, Bulgaria, invites Kim to show her work in a solo exhibition at Gallery Vistosha, Sofia, Bulgaria. Two openings draw large crowds. Exhibition lectures and programs well attended. Sigma Galley, New York exhibits a solo show.
d.p. fong San Jose, California exhibits solo show of Kim’s work.
WFUNA in United Nations Headquarters Office published a Limited Edition Lithograph, Full Moon Lady, which became the UN Stamp whose image commemorated 50 years of ending of Korean War.
Creates over 200 drawings, paintings and murals inspired by Till We Have Faces, the book by C.S. Lewis.
Paints mountain shapes and incorporates them into a work, A Thousand Mountains, based on the works of Midang, a Korean poet, who memorized the names of all the mountains around the world in an attempt to keep his aging mind fresh and active.
Walsh Gallery, Gowie Gallery, Chicago Ill, along Billy Graham Museum, Wheaton, Ill exhibit solo shows Kim’s work.
Yeh Gallery, Seoul Korea, Manderville Gallery Union College, New York, and Galerie Gan-Beauburg Gallery, Paris, France, exhibit Kim’s work in solo shows.
Moves to Maryland. Paints on a larger scale. Enlarges small shaped paintings into wall size.
Shows large scale murals at Seoul Art Space.
Chosun Iibo Museum, Seoul, Kangkan Gallery, Busan, exhibit Kim’s work in Korean solo shows.
Walsh Gallery, Chicago, Ill, Brewster Gallery, New York, NY, and Bowie Art Gallery, Due West, South Carolina exhibit Kim’s works in solo shows in the United States.
Begins humanitarian efforts In North Korea that continue to the current day.
Sabina Lee Gallery, Los Angeles, California, exhibits Kim in solo show.
First grandchild of five, Nicholas born.
Palazzo Montefano, in Bologna, Italy where she has lived intermittently near her sister for years, holds solo show. Works exhibited in solo shows at the United Nations Mission of the Republic of Korea, and the Joong Ang Cultural Center, New York City.
YEH Gallery, exhibits solo show in Seoul, Korea.
Begins her daily Korean writing exercises to avoid losing the use of her native language.
Exhibits in Gallery Hanna, Kornberg, Germany.
Thomas Cohn, engaged by her work at Art Cologne Art Fair, Germany 2000, exhibits Kim’s works at his gallery in San Paulo, Brazil. Invited by Thomas McCormack to show at Thomas McCormack, in Chicago, Illinois, regularly.
Dissolves her marriage to Steve Linton.
Works on a major collaborative print project supported by Yon Art, Seoul Korea, which includes etchings by master printer, Skip Barnhardt, George Washington University, color lithography with Tim Sjeesley at Corrido Press, New York and etchings at Normal Editions in Illinois State University. Konghan Gallery, Busan, Korea holds solo show.
March 27, married Thomas Clement, a medical device innovator, on her fiftieth birthday in Bologna, Italy.
April 4 – April 21 Wonsook Kim solo show at Gallery Hyundai, Seoul Korea, followed by solo shows at Kong Gan Gallery, Busan, Korea, Hanemaru Gallery, Kochi, Japan, Sabina Lee Gallery, Los Angeles, California, and Cooper Union Gallery, New York, NY.
Illinois State University invites Kim to give the commencement address.
Kong Gan Gallery, Busan, Korea, 2×13 Gallery, New York, NY, and Promega Art Center, Madison, Wisconsin hold solo shows.
Kim resurrects hydrostone sculpture project begun in 1976.
Publishes drawings for Courtesan Poets with Wolhee Choe.
September 8 – October 14, solo show, Loves of Outsiders, shown by Thomas McCormick Gallery, Chicago, Illinois,
October 18 – November 3, Loves of Outsiders, Gallery Hyundai, Seoul, Korea. Exhibitions feature paintings, hydro stone and bronze castings.
YEH Gallery, Seoul, Korea exhibits solo show.
March: mother, Eunchee Cha, dies.
Begins life size bronze sculpture.
October 1 – October 21 Arario Gallery, NewYork, NY presents Forest Scenes.
March 27-April 23, Le Torri Dell’acqua gallery, Budrio, Italy exhibits Poesia dell’Aqua, mixed media on canvas,
June 12-July 10, Capricorna Gallery, Capri, Italy, exhibits Poesia dell’Aqua, mixed media on canvas
Forest Scenes series used as a backdrop for a piano concert for Kim’s sister,Wonmi in Bloomington, Indiana.
Art Books in Korea publishes Life as a Painting, a collection of essays Kim wrote to keep in touch with her native language.
June 12 – July 8, Wonsook Kim at Gallery Hyundai, Seoul, Korea, features Forest Scenes Kim’s and cast bronze works, oil on canvas and mixed media. Forest Scenes shown in Chinina Italy.
Begins bronze drawing project that includes wall hanging sculpture in bronze resembling brush drawings.
MK Gallery, Washington, D.C.exhibits Kim’s works in solo show.
Kong Gan Gallery, Busan, Korea exhibits Kim’s work in solo show.
Establishes Wonsook Kim Scholarship Endowment at Illinois State University.
University Gallery at Illinois State University features Kim’s earliest works along side her latest works in a solo show.
Wonsook Kim, Innocents, Early Works 1972-1976 is published in conjunction with this show.
George Berges Gallery, New York, NY exhibits Kim’s works in a solos show.
George Berges Gallery, New York, NY exhibits Kim’s works in a solos show.
Illinois State University awards Kim with an honorary Doctor of Arts degree.