Hyunju Kim is a respected artist whose unique fiber technique is realized by using a sewing machine to transform thread – and occasionally cotton, fabrics, uniforms and stockings – into art. All the titles in her work include the term “NUBIGi” and also a number. The numbers reflect the order of her pieces, while “NUBIGi” means “sewing” in Korean.

Each seam in a piece, Kim says, represents the flow of time that becomes a road back to her childhood in South Korea, to watching her mother spend countless hours at a sewing machine. In fact, the factory that employed her mother served an important role in Kim’s life, as the threads, clothes and cottons around her became her toys. Prior to using a sewing machine to create her art, Kim painted and crafted collages.

Kim lives in New York City.


How would you describe your piece? Can you describe your artistic process in creating this artwork? 

The title of my artwork is NUBIGi, 000, 095. My main focus in my art is time. All the titles of my work include the term “nubigi,” which means sewing in Korean, and a set of numbers with the numbers indicating the order of my work.

“Sympathy” and “time” were the two terms I thought of while creating this piece. The idea of humans and aliens coexisting, being able to understand each other and learn more about each other left a large impression on me. I got most of my inspiration from the two films Star Trek (2009) and Star Trek: Into Darkness. The main focus of my art is not the drawing itself. Each thread is a symbol of time. If a thread changes in color over time, it goes to show that time still resides within it. With the sewing machine as my brush and the strings as my paint, I created my piece as if I were simply painting an image. I also used some painting techniques including splatter painting, drawing, gradation, and a few others.


In creating your artwork for the exhibition, what was your inspiration? How did you decide on the concept? What did you seek to accomplish with this artwork?

As I watched the scene in Star Trek (2009) in which Spock from the future delivers the message “PACE” to his younger self in the present, I thought to myself, “This is it!” and decided what I wanted to do. I felt the irony of the scene and the way it made me think of the knowledge of the world that we are unable to know was really special. Just as happens in the scene, I hope that the audience will be able to feel that the Spock who has left our side will continue to spread the knowledge of victory and peace to us.


How long did it take from start to finish to complete the piece?

It took me about two to three months to complete the idea sketch and about five more months to complete the piece.


See Kim's artwork at nubigi.com and follow her on Facebook and Instagram.