"Born in 1960, in Cheong Ju and raised in Seoul, Korea, Ik-Joong Kang has lived and worked in New York City since 1984. He received his MFA from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York and a BFA from Hong-Ik University in Seoul, Korea.
The artist is internationally recognized for creating major public art works using multiple 3x3 inch canvases to spotlight the plight of people and societies around the world. December 1999, Ik-Joong Kang worked with 50,000 children from South Korea in creating 100,000 Dreams. This project featured a one-kilometer long, vinyl tunnel-inside which all of the children's works were displayed. Though North Korean children did not participate as planned, this project has since manifested itself on a wider level.
In 2001, Kang completed the project ‘Amazed World’ commissioned by the Republic of Korea in association with UNICEF. Approximately 40,000 works by children from 150 countries and a diverse range of cultures, religions and political beliefs were displayed in a giant maze installation in the lobby of the United Nations building in New York. In 2013 the artist built a 175-meter-long covered bridge, ‘The Bridge of Dreams’, in Suncheon, Korea, containing 120,000 drawings by children from around the world. Last year alone the ‘Bridge of Dreams’ drew more than 5 million visitors. Kang has installed children's drawings at many hospitals and public places around the world including Cincinnati Children’s Hospital (Ohio USA 2006), Zaitun Library (Erbil Iraq 2008) and Asan Medical Center (Seoul, Korea in 2010).
Floating Dreams in London 2016 is the latest in a body of works, situated in the center of the River Thames by the Millennium Bridge in London, that spotlight the suffering of displaced people and communities in war-torn locations across the world. It was constructed from 500 miniature drawings and illuminated from within, the three-story-high lantern structure acts as a memorial to the millions displaced and divided during the Korean War (1950-53), and a poignant symbol of hope for the reunification of North and South Korea. The installation is commissioned and presented by Totally Thames. Ik-Joong Kang commented “River is alive. It talks, breathe and thinks. I know Thames does the same thing. And it can also connect and embrace us.
His next project is making a one-mile-long circular shape bridge over the Imjin River that separates North and South Korea. Kang says, ‘The children’s dreams fill the inside of the bridge and anyone who walks on this bridge will be sent to the future without even having to buy a ticket’.
Kang has exhibited widely, including a solo exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art at Philip Morris, New York in 1996; a two-person show with Nam June Paik at the Whitney Museum of American Art at Champion, Connecticut; and group exhibitions at the Metropolitan Museum of Arts, the British Museum, the Guggenheim Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, the Ludwig Museum in Germany, and the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Korea. In 1997, he was awarded The Special Merit prize in the 47th Venice Biennale and in 2014 Kang was among the artists featured in the Korea pavilion that received the Golden Lion Award at the Venice Architecture Biennale.
Kang has received many awards and fellowships, including a Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Fellowship, a Joan Mitchell Foundation Fellowship. His works in the collection of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, the Detroit Institute of Arts in Detroit, the British Museum in UK, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Ludwig Museum in Germany, the Samsung Art Museum, and the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Korea."