Stepping Out of the Binary: Interview with BC’s Mural Artist

Artist Renaise Kim displays her painting.

On January 18, submissions for a new mural on Bellevue College’s campus opened, bringing in dozens of original student concepts. All artwork was focused around the themes of “Unity,” “Building a Better Future,” “Sustainability,” and/or “Hope.” Renaise Kim was the design winner. We sat down with Kim in order to get a better understanding of the development of her piece, Stepping Out of the Binary.

What was your original inspiration for the piece?

“I wanted an authentic concept, and I use a lot of pixelated elements and symbolism in my artwork. The theme was sustainability, finding a better future and hope, and I didn’t want it to be clear; I wanted to incorporate abstract elements to make it look artistic while at the same time hiding a larger message.”

What made you combine the idea of pixels with unity?

“The mural is a zoomed in image and each pixel is a unique color or tone, and I wanted to incorporate that with people. Everybody has a unique voice so I wanted that to be translated to an original art form. I use this element of a zoomed-in image and combined it with this. And I think sustainability and building a better future really resonated with this.”

Were there any complications in the mural’s construction, and what assistance did you have?

Renaise Kim

“Measuring it all out, the design didn’t quite fit with the plywood, so we had to cut some of it down. We even had it sitting on chairs, but at one point it all collapsed so we had to paint it on the floor. I worked with Urban Artworks—they’re a non-profit organization bringing unheard of or independent artists together and giving them opportunities to exhibit their artworks in Seattle. Murals, installations, stuff like that.”

Was this your first large-scale art piece?

“Actually, I work pretty big, just not this big. I usually do large canvases, probably up to one of the square sections of the mural. Nothing 12-16 feet like this though!”

Can you explain a little more about the black-spheres along the center of the piece?

“In a lot of my art I’ve incorporated this drip-painting style, so I kind of take a strand of my hair, and like…”

Oh, are you serious?

“Oh that’s not my hair! (laughs). I just emulated that pattern, but in my other artwork I just took a strand of my hair and used that medium as the strokes for my painting. So it’s kind of like my identity incorporated with my painting. For this I just used a paint brush, but the prints in the middle of the spheres on the mural are actually my thumbprints. It starts out with one color, then progresses, and it’s like social interactions, how we learn from each other…and I thought thumbprints would be appropriate.”

Identity, right?

“Yeah, identity.”

Stepping Out of the Binary is available to view in the lobby of the R-Building.

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Last Updated June 14, 2017