I was born on April 2nd, 1979 in Seoul, Korea. My biological mother was Korean and my biological father was an American soldier who was stationed in Seoul. My birth name was Smokey Kim. I remained in Korea as a baby, while my biological father returned the United States. My biological mother became ill and I was placed in Father Keane’s orphanage, who sheltered me and found me a home. At eighteen months old, I was adopted by a loving family who lives on a working cattle ranch in eastern Oregon. I was embraced by family and surrounded by animals and art. I instantly fell in love with horses and started depicting them in artwork when I first held a crayon. My art started being cast in bronze when I was young and my parents kept much of my childhood artwork. I have created horses in art for over 35 years and I enjoy reflecting on the horses I created when I was four years old.
As I develop a deeper understanding of self, I realize how strongly art is related to my state of mind. With reflection and introspection, my adoption, where I live, family, friends, community, horses, and art fill me with sincere gratitude. Honestly expressing myself allows me to be present in life. It creates the opportunity to seek an open heart, pursue an open mind, and love. I’m an individual with strengths and weaknesses who constantly transforms in this journey of life. I live my truth, I believe in inner strength, and I am grateful for every moment I’m alive. With honor and respect for the past and the future, I embrace the present. When nothing seems to stay the same in this ever changing world, there is one thing that is always constant. My present is my pure and honest state of being.
I pay homage to horses. I pay homage to my artistic family who has encouraged me to explore with many mediums and express my authentic self through art since I was a little child. I also pay homage to the ancient Asian artists who’ve portrayed horses in similar ways for centuries before me. In Ancient Korean history horses represent energy, freedom, and the vitality of nature itself. Horses were honored as guides of the soul. Horses were depicted in pottery, folding screens, and grand stone sculptures. Horses symbolized freedom, prosperity, distinction and speed. Receiving affection from horses was sacred, and organic horse statues were often created from natural materials such as clay, wood, branches, and bamboo. Appreciating the ancient, timeless, and everlasting connection between humans and horses fuels my passion to create and be part of this beautiful and undying legacy. It helps me understand why I too was born with a consuming and unstoppable fire within that constantly burns to create the essence of animals, predominantly inspirational horses who evolve from the vast materials that surround me.
Honoring the 2014 Year of the Horse, The National Museum in Seoul Korea hosted an exhibit of late 19th century ancient horse art. Among the display was the oldest horse skull ever found in Korea. A horse sculpture found in the royal tomb of Gyeongju was also on display. I am happy that horses were and still are being cherished and creatively portrayed in art all over the world. Uplifting expressions of peaceful power, horses are pure and certainly guide my soul as I am inspired to create when my art brings others joy.
Passion is Purpose
It is hard for me to fathom how I can feel so at home in a place so far from where I was born. I’ve developed such a great appreciation for my family, my community, and horses. I love and value them all beyond words. My revelation is that it’s because they create my perception of existence. They have supported me and encouraged me to be my true self. To be o.k. with the strengths and weaknesses, the successes and failures as I strive to simply be. It is through this journey of life I find purpose, passion, and honesty. As I experience life I have faith, value freedom, and cherish love.
To spread beauty, inspiration and joy.
My admiration and respect for horses has also been expressed through mediums such as charcoal, pastels, water color, pencil, ink, tin, copper, iron and steel metal working, wood working, glass, and clay.
I enjoy creating pieces that are unusual, with organic qualities, textures, and unpredictable surprises. I also love exploring the potential of new materials and variations of mediums that can be captured on canvas, natural materials, or bronze. Through sculpture and painting, I hope to share love from my life that viewers can interpret in their own way.
Horses have taught me about will, virtue, honesty, self acceptance, and what matters in my life. I cherish them and still have so much to learn from them. Portraying them in art is wonderful.
Education, Honors and Awards
In 2004 I received a Bachelors of Science in Art after studying at the University of Oregon and Eastern Oregon University. I’ve participated in many shows and exhibitions for over twenty years and my art has received a myriad of honors & awards. It has been wonderful to witness my art spread and be received by viewers and collectors all around the world. I am excited to create art when I learn it has a positive impact. It truly brings me great inspiration and happiness to know that my art spreads joy. I know that I owe the success of my art to those who believe in me.
My studio is part of our horse barn and overlooks wide open fields that blanket the earth below Craig Mountain. I love working in a beautiful setting where I can see our horses and the horses can see me. Within the comfort of my barn and horses, my inspiration is ignited for sculptures and paintings.
Life with horses forever more
My parents tell me that the connection I have with horses was innate. I bonded to them and they responded to me when I was very little. The experiences I’ve shared with horses comes from my lifestyle. It extends from professionally schooling, boarding, breeding, selling, and participating in polo, rodeo, hunt seat, western, English and dressage. I’ve also been a riding instructor and vet assistant for race horses. Horses have always held an important and noble role in relation to the ranch and family. Horses are often involved when my family and friends spend time together. They are crucial for transportation and success in ranch work as well as pleasure riding and show time. Our horses are not just assets, they are part of our family.