Stepping into her gallery, you’ll notice right away the image of a giant chandelier entitled “What you see is the unseen/ Chandeliers for Five Cities.” From afar, the image seems to be a high-resolution print, but up close, you’ll notice the tightly woven stitches. While a moment of marvel is due to the technique, it’s actually not the work of the artist. The works are a continuation of the Embroidery Project that she first started in 2008, and the 1,800 hours invested into the embroidered chandelier were done by women in North Korea. So where does the artist stand in the work? She cut up the newspaper articles, collected images that spoke to her, and sent the design outline to women in North Korea, all through a middleman who transported the work back and forth through China.
Ham’s work is all about the insider information, the process unseen to the naked eye. It’s the viewer’s responsibility to find out the back-story behind the work. Without any wall text or commentary to guide viewers, it is nearly impossible to spot the hidden text at first glance. Don’t be that visitor who leaves the gallery thinking of the artist as a skilled craftsman, giddy with the wrong knowledge.