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Merge Series

The Merge Series presents contemporary art and furniture inspired by stone stacks often found on Korea’s mountain passes. It is an old Korean tradition for good fortune to carefully balance stones into stacks.


It was initially created in 2016 after Ok Kim’s visit to a Buddhist temple locat- ed in province of Gyungsangnam-do, South Korea. The simple and tranquil scenery of the temple and the surrounding mountains left a great impression on her.


Seeing young monks smiling happily in the yard while visitors chatted, she was inspired by the harmony she felt in that location. Since Buddhist temples have significant meaning to Koreans as a part of our culture, her art focuses more on the folklore of these scenic temple views, rather than specific reli- gious characteristics.


On the way to Korean temples one can often see piles of stones stacked on top of one another. Along with pagodas, these stone stacks serve religious as well as cultural purposes, being places where people make their wishes. The stone stacks, called Makdoltap in Korea, are often made by villagers, monks, or Buddhist pilgrims. As each stone is added to the pile, people add their wishes and prayers, taking great care not to break the delicate balance.


Inspired by these scenes of the temple, particularly the stone stacks, she cre- ated the Merge Series, artistic furniture, sculpture and paintings. Each piece of the merge series is made of metal and covered in layers of Ottchil, which is the sap of lacquer trees. For each piece, Kim begins by applying a base coat of Ottchil and fine sand atop a steel structure to achieve an uneven surface.

Then she applies several layers of colored Ottchil in varying hues in a labori- ous process that takes months to complete-alternately sanding and lacquer- ing to create her ideal “merged” chromatic combinations.


The blended colors represent the accumulated wishes people make through the layering of stones- an accumulation of positive energy that adds beauty to the world.

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