Art opens doors to culture


Last updated 9/19/2023 at 9:36am

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Lim Khim Katy's work will be featured at Toriizaka Art gallery.

Lim Khim Katy's art opens doors to cultures, landscapes, and experiences from her homeland in Vietnam. Her paintings reveal thoughts and visions from her life and imagination, giving viewers access to her dreams. She uses trowels to paint landscapes resulting in a myriad of evocative effects. Her incredible detail and ability to capture emotion in the faces of her subjects and provocative landscapes, can spark instantaneous reactions from joy to tears.

Her subjects' stories told on canvas evoke a sense of awe and curiosity. There are unanswered questions, but the warmth and invitation to relax into tranquility and peace seems to say, "Join us. Hear our stories. Choose compassion."

Katy is visiting Sisters for the first time. She is originally from Vietnam's southern commercial hub of Ho Chi Minh City. She is the daughter of a Cambodian father and Vietnamese mother who were both artists. Katy sees her gift as a visual translator of emotions as her inheritance. Her exceptional technical skills are apparent in the heightened realism in her latest works.

Paintings created by Katy will be shown at Toriizaka Art, located at 222 W. Hood Ave. in Sisters, from September 20-29. Gallery owner Karen Thomas first met Katy when the young artist's work was exhibited in the Hanoi Studio in Vietnam. Thomas, who had a gallery in Tokyo at the time, bought several of Katy's paintings, and has continued to do so for over 20 years. Their relationship flourished without ever meeting. That changed when Thomas traveled to Vietnam in 2019.

One of Katy's paintings in her show is called, "Mother's Arms." Katy explained that her inspiration came from her desire to share the compassion she experienced when she became a mother.

"The background was created by pouring yellow light colors on canvas, which represents the impermanence of life," she said. "Humans are such a small part of this world full of mysteries. The mother's figure is thin and slender on the earth, but she carries many worries in her head, so much so that they seem to be exploding. She has to struggle to feed and care for her family, but she keeps her worries hidden deep inside her mind and embraces her child with a protective love. When she holds him, she almost forgets about her struggles. The child feels safe and secure in his mother's arms; he feels her warmth, hears her heartbeat, and experiences her calm breathing. Love is the seed that I use in all my artworks."

Katy has never used a model when painting. She creates her subjects' features and emotions purely from her mind. Her hope is that each figure radiates a unique message and special beauty. She always becomes one with all her subjects. Her most important component is capturing a person's eyes, which she sees as the gateway to their soul.

Katy now lives in Nevada with family members who also immigrated to the U.S. When asked if living in another country has affected her ability to capture scenes now far away, her answer was clear:

"No. Everything I need is already inside of me," she said. "I often transform my sorrows, struggles, and hurts into beauty in my painting. When I create, I pour all my emotions through painting techniques."

Katy believes every painting has its own message. However, she loves to let every viewer read the message in their own way.

"There is no need for them to read it my way," she said.

Being the daughter of two artists, Katy grew up surrounded by the smell of oil paints and various painting compounds. She became a painter's assistant for her father at the age of 12, and worked on various tasks including coloring his figure outlines for the cinema and helping him complete various advertising posters.

Photo provided

"Mother's Arms."

"During that time, we only had gouache colors to draw on the rough linens, which were the main materials during the Vietnamese postwar period," she said.

When describing her work on display at Toriizaka, Katy explained that when she was young she focused mostly on her first impressions of a subject's attitude. Now, she's able to see deeper inside their mind and spirit, which holds their stories. She chooses compassion to better understand and read them more closely.

"I would like to depict every figure with more detail to express the beauty of the human soul," said Katy.

There will be a special reception for Katy on Friday, September 22, from 4 to 7 p.m. during the Sisters Arts Association's Studio Tour. Visit Toriizaka Art's website for more information on Lim Khim Katy at


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