We're thrilled to bring you the next installment of our Women Working In The Arts series. In this article, we feature Su Hyun Kim, Co-founder & CEO of Arte Original gallery.
Have you ever been on a trip to Latin America, stumbled into a local gallery and ended up purchasing a painting or two? You thought “This is fantastic! What else is out there?” but didn’t have time to explore more of the art scene? Then you’re traveling back home with this large tube of paintings on your flight, thinking “there must be a better way”.
Have you ever followed an awesome artist through social media, only to be discouraged from buying their artwork because of all the cumbersome logistics (How do I pay? What if I don’t get the painting? What if I don’t like it in person?).
Have you been thinking of adding variety to your home collection but not knowing which pieces to invest in? (Who are these artists? Are they well regarded in their region? What tendency do they fit into?)
Enter Arte Original. The gallery works with established artists across Latin America, giving them a space to present their work internationally. Arte Original makes sure these pieces are a good fit for their clients' art collection portfolio through their AI pricing model without any BS.
What makes this gallery different? Their team of nine people are all in the countries where their artists are. That way they can more easily discover new talent, create jobs in the region and contribute to the local art ecosystem. Having their team on the ground also helps with logistical challenges. Each country has specific requirements for exporting art so the Arte Original team guides the artists with these issues, making sure all artworks are delivered safely to the client’s doorstep.
As a mindful gallery, they believe in growing together with their collectors and artists. They know what’s going on in their artists’ lives and are there to support them - even if that means helping them purchase a much-needed water tank for their home in crisis-hit Caracas, or assisting them safely pack and send their art from Buenos Aires. This way, their collectors can trust that the artists they fell in love with are in good hands.
After over a decade working in the international development field, how did you eventually transition to an entirely new career in the arts?
I started Arte Original while working at the Inter-American Development Bank and continued with it as a side hustle while working at the World Bank. Finally in October 2021, I decided to dedicate myself full-time to Arte Original.
When did you launch Arte Original and what is your mission?
Arte Original started in early 2019 and the mission is to promote Latin American artists who are very talented and have unique stories to tell to an international audience.
Can you talk more specifically about the gap you saw that you wanted to address with Arte Original?
It was mostly the uniqueness of colors and styles that I could not see commonly in the US or in Korea.
What have been some of the challenges of starting your business? What would you say have been your biggest achievements so far?
Biggest challenge is the logistics of moving art from where the artists live to Washington, D.C. Biggest achievement is representing more than 120 artists and over 1,500 artworks from 7 different countries through online activities and in-person exhibitions.
Who are a few of the artists from your gallery that we should know about?
I really love all our artwork, but particularly love our women artists' works - such as Karen Pazan, Ileana Rincon-Cañas, Yudy Marquez, Magdalena Roglich.
You recently exhibited at the Affordable Art Fair in New York this fall, but what's next for Arte Original? Any goals for 2023?
We are planning on participating in the AAF NYC Spring edition next year and other local art fairs in the DMV area during the first half of 2023. We will continue having exhibitions regionally as well, check out our website or IG account for upcoming events!
Our goal is to become the trustworthy gallery that anyone can go to for Latin American fine art. We want to continue supporting artists that don’t have the promotion their work deserves, build a community of art lovers, and create jobs. Currently, 38% of our artists are talented women artists and we aim to increase the ratio of women artists to 50% by 2023.
Alicia Puig has been a contributing writer for Create! Magazine since 2017.