Artist captures the topography of hair

New Jersey-based painter So Yoon Lym weaves a new appreciation of hair braiding and realistic painting.

The detail captured by New Jersey-based painter and art educator So Yoon Lym speaks to the intricacy of hair design and braiding. So Yoon Lym, who was born in Seoul, Korea and lived in Kenya, Uganda and the United States, always had with an artistic eye and hand but she admits that the real push to do what she loves come when she decided to study in France with Korean exiled painter Ung No Lee when she was 15 years old.

Her formal education in art, acquired in Rhode Island and New York City, kept with her trend of refusing to be confined to one place geographically and mentally. From 2001 she would spend some of her days running after the students in the halls of John F. Kennedy High School in the hope that they would let her photograph their patterned hairstyles for use in a future project.

William from "The Dreamtime"

Mariah from "The Dreamtime"

She sees the braided patterns in her work The Dreamtime as “a map of the ancient universe, a topographical palimpsest of the world in patterns”. Translating the hairstyles of students and strangers that she has collected over the years into paintings, she draws a parallel between the painter and the hair braider. On her website, So Yoon Lym explains that both “lay down their marks like their predecessor creator begins, carving and inscribing, creating and being, in turn, created by their labour.” 

Mario from "The Dreamtime"

Juan II from "The Dreamtime"

The realistic acrylic paintings of The Dreamtime speak to the power So Yoon Lym believes that hairstyles carry as indicators of cultural, ethnic and gender relationships.

Jose from "The Dreamtime"