Leo Kim Virtual Program and Online Exhibit

Leo Kim Exhibit
March 19, 2021

Update on 4/28/21: The link to the recording of the Leo Kim Virtual Program is now available on the NDSU Repository.

Leo Kim Virtual Program

NDSU Libraries invite you to a virtual program celebrating the life and work of distinguished photographer and former NDSU student Leo Kim. Local photographers who were inspired by Leo will discuss his achievements and his impact on photography in the community. Panel Chair is Dr. Ross Collins, NDSU Department of Communication Professor, former photojournalist, and co-editor of Photocommunication Across Media (2018). Panelists include Colburn Hvidston III, retired photojournalist, former photo department manager at The Forum for 35 years, and former president of the National Press Photographers Association; Dan Koeck, freelance editorial photographer and former NDSU University Relations photographer for 24 years; Dave Samson, photographer with The Forum for the past 15 years and the West Fargo Pioneer/Midweek publications for 25 years; and Dave Wallis, The Forum photographer for 40 years with a 50-year career in news and sports photography.

Wallis stated, "Leo Kim was one of the very most influential people in my life. He had an extremely high bar of quality. He would spend so much time working to make a photograph no matter whether the subject was a machine part or a landscape. Unlike so many images today that are 'Photoshopped' to an extreme, Leo believed in presenting an image as it actually was, without manipulating the image afterwards. It's wonderful that his legacy is being archived and made available for viewing."

This is a virtual event to be held on Thursday, April 22 at 12:00pm via Zoom. Campus members can get the Zoom link for the program from the Libraries email newsletter. Community members can email lindsay.condry@ndsu.edu to get the Zoom link. If you are unable to attend, the recording will be available soon after on the NDSU Repository. This event is sponsored by NDSU Libraries with assistance from the NDSU Department of Communication.


A Photographic Journey: The Life & Work of Leo Kim Online Exhibit

Leo Kim's collection of photographs, negatives, slides, and records was generously donated to the NDSU Archives in 2019. The upcoming virtual program coincides with a new online exhibit A Photographic Journey: The Life & Work of Leo Kim, which shares details of Leo’s life and examples of his work from the Leo Kim Photograph Collection. The online exhibit was created by NDSU Department of Communication graduate student Noah Petters with assistance from NDSU Archives volunteer Mike Smith and NDSU Libraries staff members.

We encourage you to view the exhibit, share it with others, and join us for the virtual program to celebrate Leo with his friends on April 22. Coming in Fall 2021 is an in-person exhibition of Leo’s work at NDSU’s Memorial Union Gallery, with a corresponding event during NDSU Homecoming Week 2021.

Further information about Leo Kim’s life and work can be found in the Leo Kim Collection.


About Leo Kim

Leo Kim was born in 1946 and lived his early life in Hong Kong, Macao, and Austria. At the age of twenty-two he immigrated to the U.S. and decided to touch down in North Dakota because of the advertised low cost of living, college tuition, and wide-open spaces. He began by freelancing and taking pictures for NDSU’s student newspaper The Spectrum, and was brought onto the 1971/1972 Bison Annual for designing, photography, and coediting. He worked at The Forum in Fargo and The Standing Rock Star in Fort Yates at the Standing Rock Indian Reservation. Leo went on to spend time living in the Minneapolis, Minnesota area doing freelance and commercial work.

He was later drawn back to North Dakota for a new project that highlights his ability to skillfully capture North Dakota’s beauty–his 2003 book, North Dakota Prairie Landscape. Even though Leo deliberately kept people out of these photographs, there is certainly evidence that people inhabited the land. Published in 2010 was Leo's final, grand project, St. Paul Serenity, including natural parks and urban squares. Like the prairie landscapes of North Dakota, they have no people present in them, adding an even more powerful feeling of serenity and timelessness to an often-bustling place. 

Leo passed away in 2019. By the end of his career, he had produced roughly 3,607 prints, 29,966 negatives, and 11,400 slides. He is noted to be personable, humble, intelligent, and creative. Leo once stated, "I try to look at things as though I've never seen them before. I try to see them for the first time. I strive not to be influenced by other people's preconceptions of how things ought to look."


How To Get Involved

The NDSU Archives actively seeks additions to its collections and relies on material and financial donations from the community to fulfill its mission. To learn more about our collections or make a donation, visit library.ndsu.edu/ndsuarchives or contact us at ndsu.archives@ndsu.edu

Friends of the Libraries help make events like this happen. Our Friends share a passion for their community and a strong appreciation of NDSU Libraries. If you would like to support students and help advance research, teaching, and learning opportunities within the Libraries, join today at ndsufoundation.com/donate-library or visit library.ndsu.edu/friends to learn more.


Lone hay bale image above: Stanley, ND, August 1999, The Leo Kim Collection, NDSU Archives