Soomin Ham’s Photography Is A Gut-Wrenching Exploration Of Loss And Memory by Pat Padua - DCist

When she was young, Soomin Ham had a fear of losing her parents. In 2009, her mother committed suicide, and Ham’s recent photography and video work, now on display at the Art League in Old Town Alexandria’s Torpedo Factory, powerfully addresses loss and memory.

As I spoke with Ham about her work yesterday, I felt we both had trouble holding back tears. Her evocative photography takes family photos and objects that belonged to her late mother and imbues them with an incredibly poignant sense of fleeting time and memory. In the “Back to Heaven” series, named for one of her mother’s favorite Korean poems, the ephemeral images seem to fade before your very eyes.

Ham is the youngest of four children, and studied classical music South Korea, where she played oboe. In 1994, she came to the United States, where she studied at New York University and the International Center of Photography. Her mother, who stayed in Korea, had trouble with loneliness and a lifelong struggle with depression intensified. Ham returned to Korea after her mother’s death to sort her belongings. more