The Photographer Who Escapes New York Without Leaving Her Studio

KangHee Kim’s collaged photographs double as portals to dreamy, unknown worlds.


When the going gets tough, the tough seek escapism. KangHee Kim, a 27-year-old South Korean artist living in New York, slips away by taking pictures and collaging them into scenes that depict incongruous portals into dreamy, unknown worlds. She arrived stateside more than a decade ago, but her visa status prohibits her from leaving the country. So four years ago, tired of her surroundings, KangHee began fiddling around with photography in an attempt to force some magic into her “mundane daily life.” The resulting images form the ongoing series “Street Errands,” and feature photographs of everything from subway stations to skyscrapers—things she encounters every day—stitched together in Photoshop. In KangHee’s domain, the familiar becomes unfamiliar: Scaffolding frames cotton candy sunsets, snow-laden windshields reveal cumulus clouds, and highways give way to topiary trees. KangHee, who holds a B.F.A. in painting from the Maryland Institute College of Art, approaches each image with no plan in mind, focusing on color and composition instead. Has her escape plan worked? “You know when you’re traveling abroad and constantly looking all over, discovering new things within a single space?” she says. “I’m doing that, but without going anywhere. It feels like I’m traveling.” —193,000 followers

All Stories