by REERA YOO | @reeraboo
This prestigious award is given annually to creatives who have made a significant impact in their field and community. Previous award recipients include the first native-born Asian American female journalist Jan Yanehiro and award-winning writer Elaine H. Kim.
This year, the San Francisco Bay Area awarded the title to Kim, alongside fashion designer Crisanta Malig and origami artist Linda Tomoko Mihara.
Born in Los Angeles, Kim received his MFA from Mills College in 2014, where he worked closely with renowned painter Hung Lui. He specializes in spray painted works, many of which depict the rich and complex history of Korea. One of Kim’s most notable artworks is a 130-feet mural in Oakland that features celebrated, Korean independence activist Yu Gwan-san, a distant relative of Kim’s. His murals can be found all around the world, from U.S. cities to South Korea, Norway and Mexico.
A mural of student activist Yu Gwan-san on 40th and Broadway in Oakland. (Photo via Dave Young Kim’s website)
Over the years, Kim has dedicated his artistic talents to his community by collaborating with various nonprofit organizations, such as World Impact and Attitudinal Healing Connection.
On May 4, the APA Heritage Awards kicked off its annual celebration at San Francisco City Hall with performances by local Asian American musicians and traditional dancers of different Asian backgrounds. Several local restaurants also served a wide spread of Asian cuisine for the reception.
After being presented with a lei and trophy, Kim said in his speech, “This recognition compels me to continue working towards enhancing Asian American awareness and to use my gifts to better the world around me.”
Kim is currently working on a documentary called Interlaced that explores the complexities of living as a Korean American and the struggle of embracing one’s cultural roots.