“Full Set” by Kim Ha Written by Janae’ Hurst

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“Full Set” by Kim Ha

Written by Janae’ Hurst

 Whether it’s her photos of lowriders on Claiborne, the daily sunset, or everything in between, you’ve come across her work one way or another and if not, allow me to introduce you to Kim Ha. Kim gave us art that was inspired by her childhood and culture with an immersive experience through her 2nd solo exhibition, “Full Set”, a dedication to her mother who was a nail technician.


Opening night was not only successful but the gallery was beyond full and Kim was the lady of the evening. People of all kinds were present in support of Kim, but also to extend their love for nail art & culture. It was truly a beautiful sight to see and be upon. There was an actual nail station, sculpted fingers, cocktails with names inspired by classic nail designs and so many more elements to captivate her attendees. (Did I mention SCULPTED FINGERS???) 


During the exhibit, I found myself tracking down Kim to introduce myself and get a few photos of her but I decided to hold off on the questions as opening nights are special but also really demanding. So it wasn’t until the following day where I was able to catch up with Kim and chat one on one. 


Here are some of my favorite moments from my conversation with Kim:


Q1: Janae’: “What inspires your style of work and when did you begin to notice your style developing.” She began to explain how she began watching more cinematic movies she was engulfed in the visuals. 


Kim: “When you look at the stuff I shoot, I always want it to feel like it’s from a movie”. (Kim shared some of her ultimate favorite movies like: Belly, Paid n’ Full, Casino, Godfather, Crouching Tiger & the Hidden Dragon, and Curse of the Golden Flower. )  “I love the fashion [in these movies], it’s like you can tell that's how people, when they're in that world, that’s how they dress, that's how they act. I love taking (shooting) that. And that's where I think my style started to develop, because every time I get inspired, to the ‘T’ of every detail, I want to make sure that it’s felt that way.” 


Q2:  Janae’: You really love to honor your mother and your Asian roots. Obviously that is who you are so it comes automatically, but how has your own upbringing and culture, merging together with New Orleans, ultimately bleed into your current work? 

Kim shared with me how she is Houston-born, but she and her family moved to New Orleans a few years before hurricane Katrina hit which resulted in them returning back to Houston where she too was met with the refugee narrative leaving her to feel unwelcomed and  unaccepted because of having to evacuate from New Orleans which is challenging being that she’s from Houston.

 Kim: “When I started shooting I got really obsessive over fashion and I started looking at Vogue magazines and I never noticed Black women in magazines or campaigns, in the fashion world, when I would watch runway shows, fashion movies, etc. you would not see a black woman and it was fucking weird, so I made it a goal to shoot black women.

Q3Janae' : You just shot Nike’s new campaign honoring their 40th anniversary of the release of the classic Air Force 1’s. Here in New Orleans we call them G-Nikes and Nike chose to acknowledge and honor our culture and style here in New Orleans.You seem to love fashion, especially sneakers so how was that experience for you? 


Kim: “One, I’ve been a sneakerhead since fifteen years old. My first pair of Jordan’s, I bought with my hard earned dishwashing money. They were Jordan 13’s, they were lows, they were Bulls. “I got super obsessive over Jordan’s.” (Kim explained how once she started to learn about all the history behind sneakers she fell into a rabbit hole and is actually on a mission to recollect all of her favorite pairs of Jordan's. Which made the Nike AF1 Campaign even more special for her. 2 months before the campaign, a creative agency reached out to Kim telling her how they loved her work, asking her rates and availability but giving very little detail of what the shoot would entail. 1 week before the shoot, the creative agency who reached out to Kim revealed that they were working with Nike. She continued by saying..)  “Imagine being a kid buying sneakers, waiting in line, being in that immersive culture.. To being like “we want you to do a shoot that’s gonna be on Nike’s website”” … “But also doing it for New Orleans, I was so fucking proud and I wanted to make sure it was captured correctly”


Q4: Janae': How did this exhibition come to the surface? When did you know you were “pregnant” with this creation? 


(Kim shared with me how in the beginning she was going to do a nails series with nail sets dedicated to fashion designers, “Dedication to Designer” …)

Kim: “But then I was like there’s so much to the nail industry and as I started working with some of the nail sets, I was like, I gotta do this for my mom.After that revelation she went to Arizona to do (2) test shots and now we see the fruits of her seeds planted.

For more on Kim Ha follow @Lyn.Kim

Follow Janae' Hurst @worldofjanae