Soomin Ham - Portraits and Windows

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I was astonished by the tiny black and white portraits, photographs my grandfather had made in the 1930’s. He was not a professional photographer but he had an artist’s sensibility, and this would have been lost to me if not for the box of photos I found after he was gone.

The photos sat before me, faded and worn, but the images were alive with a fragile beauty of expression and gesture. Except for a few photos of my grandmother, the portraits were of people I didn’t recognize. But the candid images were haunting and I started to wonder. In my imagination I began to create small visual poems, woven fabric of memory and dreams.  It was then that I decided give life again to these lost images.

After exploring and gaining a deeper understanding of these photographs, I began to alter the images to create the “Portraits” series. These new images are reconstructed as composites where the past and present coexist and resonate.

The "Windows" series continues this exploration by merging my grandfather’s vision and my own. The original faded photographs are recontextualized with fragments from the “Portraits” series suggesting a new narrative transcending the people, place and time originally portrayed.

Photography is a window to place, time, and memory. In the “Portraits” and "Windows" series, photography enabled me to connect to my grandfather, to understand his creative vision, and to collaborate with him in creating this new body of work.


Print Information

“Portraits” series

Medium: archival pigment print on Hanji (Korean mulberry paper)

Size: 25” x 37”

Year: 2017

Limited edition


“Windows” series

Medium: archival pigment print

Size: 20” x 26”

Year: 2017

Limited edition



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