Installation view, pigment prints at the Cross-Breeds exhibition at the Art Hub in Toronto, October 2017

Kim-Lee Kho

I am a multidisciplinary visual artist with strong roots in drawing, painting, digital and design, and a special interest in hybrid media. A Full Heart is an ongoing series in which I explore the human heart – as repository for emotions, as metaphor, as anatomical structure – using it as a gateway to what our hearts mean to us.

My work before this series was primarily concerned with issues of vulnerability, empathy, identity and barriers. The hearts are rooted in that work, pushing past specificities to what resides in all of us, while sometimes bringing back recurrent motifs like chain link fences.

It starts, on the one hand, with a feeling which moves onto paper. Whether brush and ink on rice paper, (an expression of the Chinese half of my heritage), or mixed drawing media, it needs to be direct, immediate and expressive. On the other hand, I am fascinated by the detailed structures in three-dimensional medical models and antique anatomical illustrations – both are frequently referenced or appear in the work.

Drawing is a way of thinking which provides an entry point, allowing me to contemplate subject matter and move inside it, while 2-D digital media are another native visual language as a result of my longtime design career. Perhaps that, and my own hybrid identity, are why I have a special interest in hybrid forms combining digital and tactile media and methods, manifesting as either digital or physical originals.

One recent development has been expressing the heart as a Chinese-like character that’s actually asemic writing (i.e. not an actual language) based on traditional brush calligraphy, which returns me once again to the Chinese side of my roots.

Kim-Lee Kho is an active exhibitor, participating in exhibitions, residencies and mentorships in Ontario, Alberta and BC. She has been awarded exhibition and creation grants by the Ontario Arts Council. In 2015 she had a solo show at the Art Gallery of Mississauga, and was a feature artist with large-scale installations in the 2016 In Situ arts festival at the historic Small Arms Building.

Kho teaches at the Haliburton School of Art + Design (Fleming College), Neilson Park Creative Centre in Etobicoke, Visual Arts Mississauga, conducting workshops, speaking and jurying at the invitation of other groups in Ontario. She also leads independent gallery walks focused on contemporary art.