Soomin Ham: Seeing Beyond External Form and Beauty

Soomin Ham's newest work, SOUND OF BUTTERFLY, is on exhibit at Multiple Exposures Gallery through May 11th. Below she shares some thoughts on finding inspiration in sacred spaces.
 
Since the time photography became one of my creative media, I have come to recognize three special places that inspire me to reflect on art and meaning in my life.  I would like to share what I have experienced these places, working to capture my thoughts and emotions in my photographs. 

When I was a child, I would imagine ghosts in cemeteries and was scared to go there. As I grew older, and as loved ones passed away, the cemetery became a sanctuary, a private place of peace and personal connection.  When I was sad or feeling lost, I would drive two hours to the Memorial Park in Seoul, Korea, where my grandmother's grave is.  Often I would stay there -- close to what is now also my mother's final resting place -- finding comfort and a place of contemplation. Since moving to the United States, I continue to visit cemeteries, walking the quiet paths, reading the stones, curious about the lives of the departed... and finding the same comfort as I had in my own country.

The desert is a second special place of inspiration. A trip to India in 1992 was my first experience seeing the beauty of the desert. I was speechless at the threshold of this endless space. I was so excited to take a photograph at the beginning, but eventually, I put my camera down, as I wanted to feel the desert's spirit and its silent echo.

The Royal Palaces of Seoul are another favorite place for my inspiration. In my childhood, visiting the Royal Palaces with my family offered me a place of wonder. As time passed, these palaces have become places of harmony, spirituality, and nostalgia.  Now too many tourists have come and broken the silence of the past, but I still sense the traces of time and find memories of times shared with my loved ones.

For me, these places of inspiration transcend time and space. Beyond appearances, they leave behind their questions of eternity.  For my art life, I choose to develop ideas based on the inspirations that I find in these spiritual places, rather than trying to capture their external form and beauty.  They are my private sanctuaries, and I will return to them again and again along the path of my photographic journey.