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"Twelve Gates I" by Hee Sook Kim, mixed media on panel
"Twelve Gates I" by Hee Sook Kim, mixed media on panel

Medieval Mystic Inspires Fine Arts Professor's New Exhibition

It was a conversation with a monk in Heidelberg, Germany, in the summer of 2008 that first sparked Assistant Professor of Fine Arts Hee Sook Kim’s fascination with medieval writer, mystic and saint, Hildegard of Bingen. That fall, the abbess came up again during a faculty seminar at Haverford. “Ever since, I have been fascinated by her pioneering guidance concerning physical and mental healing practices in the 12th century,” says Kim about Hildegard, who penned texts on theology, botany and medicine, composed poetry, and wrote the first surviving morality play.

Hildegard’s life and work is the inspiration for Kim’s exhibit “Twelve Gates: Encounter with Hildegard of Bingen,” which runs through June 8 in Brooklyn’s Chi Contemporary Fine Art Gallery. The number 12 in the title refers to the number of months in a year, says Kim, while “gates” represent “entrances to imaginary places.” The exhibit features “monumental” works (each seven feet tall and four feet wide) that combine painting and printmaking on wood panels. Also part of the exhibition is a video installation collaboration with writer and composer Christopher Shultis. The installation includes 12 paintings on silk screen, 12 poems, 12 glass jars with dried herbs, and four sound tracks, along with video-projected images.

Kim, who often explores themes of spirituality and healing, says in her artist’s statement, “I am learning, experiencing, and absorbing Hildegard’s ideas into my work. I conjure her ideas into my experiences. I dig and pull Asian culture from within my soul. I imagine something that has not been visualized into work.  And then I make it.”

For more information about the exhibit, visit

Students cross in front of Founders Hall.

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