Born in Korea, So Yoon Lym spent her early childhood in Kenya and Uganda, before moving to the United States. The subjects featured in The Dreamtime are students photographed during her time as an art teacher in New Jersey from 2001 to 2009. On the inspiration for the series, she says, “when I was teaching in Paterson, cornrow hair braids were the hairstyle of choice for the students interested in style and fashion. The teenagers were heavily influenced by their idols, such as Allen Iverson, Carmelo Anthony, Snoop Dogg…”
Can you give an insight into the process of the creation of the series? The paintings were originally a smaller scale, painted very gesturally. After having exhibited these paintings successfully, I decided that they would look more commanding as a large scale series, painted with more photographic precision. With many of them I decided to lighten the scalp considerably, to give a more graphic representation of a pattern design. This could then be viewed as a symbol, a map, a fingerprint of each unique and individual personality that was the subject. The paintings were meant to recreate hair in a way to showcase the artistry of the craft of cornrow hair braiding. I also wanted the viewer to be fascinated by the sheer precision of hand painted hair, because “paintings” in my imagination have a purpose, and one of the purposes of a painting is to “re-present” or “re-create” something new.