360 Video: Artist Jane Kim Illustrates Golden Gate Park's Entwined Ecologies

Save ArticleSave Article

Failed to save article

Please try again

This article is more than 6 years old.

(For mobile viewing, open this video in your YouTube app.)

San Francisco artist Jane Kim has painted hundreds of species of plants and animals, from the Sierra’s disappearing bighorn sheep to a giant prehistoric owl that once roamed Cuba. But this year, the science illustrator, who co-founded Ink Dwell studio, turned her sights closer to home.

Kim lives just a few blocks away from Golden Gate Park, its 1,000 acres inhabited by thousands of plants and animals and frequented by 13 million visitors every year, and wanted to explore how the city’s beloved green space came about.

As the de Young Museum’s June 2016 Artist-in-Residence, she discovered that rapid growth from San Francisco's "other" boom nearly 150 years ago -- the Gold Rush -- fueled the park's creation, and how public opinion prominently influenced what has survived in the park over the years.

In this 360 video, KQED Arts captures Kim’s journey into Golden Gate Park’s past and present, immersing the viewer in areas inaccessible to the public -- from the middle of the bison paddock to the historic nursery that helped establish the park’s earliest plantings. Animations reveal the radical transformation that San Francisco's native coastal landscape underwent to become the Golden Gate Park we know and enjoy today.


“The ups and downs of species in and out of the park are directly a result of our own behavior and attitudes,” says Kim, who sees parallels between the park and greater San Francisco today. “I started to see similarities between sentiments of wanting to preserve native plants and wildlife in San Francisco and wanting to preserve native culture and people in San Francisco.”

Kim grounded her residency at de Young’s Kimball Gallery with a world map tracing the origins of the most common plants in park, as well as the birthplaces of museum visitors. She created several paintings depicting the complex interplay between animals, plants and people when they share the same space. One painting shows a pair of ravens perched in a eucalyptus, weaving a nest of iPhone lightning cables. In another, a coyote and fox play tug-of-war over a Facebook employee lanyard, against the backdrop of invasive ivy.

“I hope people ask themselves, ‘What character am I? Who do I relate with in this?’ And that we can move beyond the blanket native and non-native argument, to consider the whole system and how we can make decisions moving forward,” adds Kim, “because the decisions we continue to make are going to shape what Golden Gate Park is for the next 100 years.”

See works from Jane Kim’s de Young residency in CARBON at Gallerie Citi through Nov. 24. For more information on the exhibition visit gallerieciti.com.