Couples come together in all different kinds of ways. Some of us are set up through friends or family. Others bump into each other as strangers and launch into fantastic conversation. Some others go online. With others, it’s through a shared activity, whether it be regular like school or the workplace, or not so regular, but beloved like a hobby. And with still others, we meet as friends, become best friends, and then take a leap of faith–or gamble–and try being lovers.

Here are a few stories of the couples around us at MICA. Happy Valentine’s Day.

featured couples' portraits

Sarah & Minku; Kyle & Flora; Colleen & Vance; John & Ellice

Painting, First(s)
Kyle & Flora

Kyle Says…
It was my freshman year at MICA. Flora was a sophomore, but I took sophomore painting the spring of my freshman year, so we were in the same class. But the sophomore painting class was divided into different sections and with different teachers, so we didn’t talk to each other. We both went on MICA Bus Trip to New York in the spring and got to know each other. At the end of the trip, we exchanged numbers. We were casually acquainted for a year. The next semester, fall of my sophomore year, I took the Exhibition Development Seminar and saw that Flora was in the class as well. I sat next to her because I didn’t know anybody else. We were also in Color Abstraction  together. In the Exhibition Development Seminar, the class is divided into teams. Flora and I decided to join the Education team, and we worked together the whole semester organizing all the public programming for the Laure Drogul Exhibition. Through this process, we got closer and started to hang out more. By the spring, we went to parties and picnics together and started dating  after spring break (March 21, 2009). We’ve been dating for nearly a year now and its been going pretty great.

Flora Says… Kyle is basically my “first everything”. He is my first real boyfriend (the last Boyfriend I had was in middle school, and I don’t really count that anymore because we were too young to know anything.) He is my first who took me out for romantic dinners, he is my first to surprise me with flowers randomly, he is my first guy to make me a birthday card (I always make birthday cards for my friends and family but I never receive a handmade card back), he is my first romantic date at the beach, he is my first sand digging partner, he is my first to make a trip to the Baltimore Book Festival–a memorable night, he is my first doctor who treated me with warm blankets and tea when we were both sick, he is my first experience of flying to another state to meet his family and relatives, he is my first to rush down to the harbor with to watch the sunset and then missing it and getting ice cream instead, he is my first to walk in a snow storm with at 3 am and running and giggling around with our arms spread out in the snow and he is the first person I wake up to when I sleep over at his place, and lastly he is my first compassionate lover. As much as all of these things sound corny and sappy they are all memories that I cherish and are things that remind me of how much he means to me and how much he is a great part of me and my life.

A Wrinkle On-Line Sows Seed
John & Ellice

Ellice Says…

Meeting John wasn’t anything extraordinary, yet he was my breath of fresh air as he whisked me off my feet. I thought I was meeting someone to figure out the identity of a stranger who friended me on facebook, but we ended up talking for 10.5 hours straight. The backdrop to this scenario? I was in the middle of cleaning up the mess of an LDR (long distance relationship), finding my own place in a new church-home, and saying “yes” to the sudden opportunities handed to me. I wasn’t looking for a relationship, but an escape. I wasn’t looking for romance, I was looking for love. I wasn’t looking for a significant other, but a trustworthy friend. John told me later that he fell in love with me the first night we met, but it wasn’t that way for me. He filled each need I had at the time, and became my best friend. Then he went a little beyond and demonstrated his natural ability and desire to be more than that for me, and I fell in love. Becoming a couple was an adventure. I rejected him countless times. But all the while, I told my parents early on that “I met this guy, he’s really sweet and his family’s like our family,” bla bla bla. Considering they raised me talking about my future married identity for as long as I can remember, they were naturally very excited. Six months later, he came to visit my family. It was the first time I talked about a guy or brought one home for inspection. My parents got cold feet, then ice cold before going lukewarm. It’s as though they were playing the part I played for the past six months. Even though I was ready to stop meeting him casually and become a couple. Another eight months later and my parents are learning to walk through the rite of passage of recognizing that their 21-year-old daughter is timely with her dating and not premature. At the same time, I’m learning to balance who I am in this relationship with who John is, how we grew up–and taking the best of the lessons but leaving the not-so-good, and also learning to maintain a balance of who we are as a couple in relation to others who may or may not be couples, and may or may not be young adults. We’re also developping spiritual and faithful awareness as a couple, not only as individuals. In learning, I find myself falling in love over and over again. And John, he just tells me he falls deeper in love.

John Says…

^^ What she said.

Although I love Ellice to death, she can be MAJOR pain in the butt. Sometimes…
No, most of the time.

John, who runs and ducks for cover.

Harmonious Connections
Colleen & Vance

Colleen Says…

My boyfriend Vance and I have been high school sweethearts for about 2 years now. In the beginning, the first sparks of our friendship started out with our intimate connections to music. Sharing interests in music that were filled with lively energy and emotional resonance inspirited our hearts. Our love for various rhythmic melodies with poetic verses in music later lead to more interpersonal, heart-to-heart chats about other captivating moments in our lives. He is genuine, compassionate, energetic, and open-minded unlike any other person I’ve ever known. Eventually, as our personalities intertwined, the sparks of our friendship ignited into a fire of passion after realizing just how special we are to each other. On January 5, 2008 we made our relationship official after having a perfect night skating at Iceworld. Throughout these last few months, we’ve spent some of the best moments we’ve ever had in our lives together. There have been a few challenges along our path but we have overcome our weaknesses together to become even stronger today.
I guess we’ve proven to others that traditional morals and values have changed nowadays. Our interracial relationship shows our open-mindedness and high social tolerance for people of all cultures. It shouldn’t matter what color your skin is, but the colorful personality in your heart is what matters the most. The colors in his heart have inspired and painted one of the most beautiful and memorable pictures of my life.

Vance Says…

Since the day I met Colleen, I never would have thought that I would be in such a heartfelt relationship. We met in our school bus and started to become close during my junior year of high school. We shared our thoughts on music and she introduced me to tennis. Colleen then invited me to her 17th birthday party where we made an even deeper connection. After exchanging contact information, we then shared personal feelings over instant messenger. We officially became a couple on January 5th after our first date at Iceworld. Like any normal relationship we have had our ups and downs, but we did not let that break us. We have used these setbacks to make our relationship even stronger. Colleen and I are a very passionate interracial couple and someday we want to have pretty blasian babies. I do not think our different races have affected our relationship. Colleen has been a great influence in my life and I love her very much. This is just the beginning of our wonderful relationship.

Melodious Romance
Minku & Sarah

Minku Says…

This is a brief summary of what happened between us.
We first met fall of freshmen year in the piano room. Sarah was playing a song by Eric Satie which I had just been listening to on a cd and I was in the laundry room where I could hear the piano. I went to the piano room saying , “Eric Satie!” which shocked her. She stopped playing and turned to see who was barging in. We introduced ourselves and for the rest of the semester would occasionally play piano together but nothing else. Second semester we talked more and eventually went to a jazz concert together, again bonding through music. We ended going to the Jazz formal together and that got both of us out of our shells enough to realize we wanted a deeper relationship. Since then we have become extremely close and are rarely apart from each other.
Even though we come from different places we have a similar desire for ethnic and delicious food, good music, playing piano, teaching each other our languages, painting.

A side note from Sarah

I have always been fascinated with other cultures so the fact that Minku is initially from a different place is very exciting for me. I am trying to learn Korean with great help from his mom as well as himself. I loved learning to use chopsticks and eating sushi. The language barrier is sometimes confusing but often just very funny and not harmful. The funniest would probably be when he said, “what a lovely bitch” when he really meant, “what a lovely beach” 🙂

We have both spent time with each others family in New Mexico and New York so we have a greater understanding of where we each come from. It was great for me when I went to NYC with Minku because he is such a ‘big city’ person and was confident to show me around the chaos of the city. In reverse he loved going hiking with me in New Mexico and seeing a way of living very different from the city.
Our year anniversary is in March and we are both very happy to celebrate the past wonderful year together.
Stories Collected & 1 Written by Ellice Park

Q: So it’s really interesting that your work as to do with the liminal space in physical atmosphere where there is no fear of political correctness, because the atmosphere belongs to nobody.  And yet, the skies are in a way, owned, according to what section floats above which plot of land.  For example, when the polluted air of one of the northeaster USA states ‘leaked’ into a neighboring state;s air and damaged the air quality there were huge legal bickering over the responsibility of this issue.  You said that you feel comfortable floating in the air, seated within an airplane , because it is a space that allows ultimate relaxation– but only that activity.  Is the work you make pertaining to skies planes mostly focused on the airplane experience?

HS: I think I use airplane images over and over for my artworks.  I think that airplane made it possible for people to travel easily.  People travel.  Some like myself end up staying destination.  Airplane image come with many meaning for me with different mixture of emotion.  Like yoy mentioned, being air is equalizing experience for anyone in the plane.  No Matter who you are, your life is temporarily suspended in the sky.  Rich or poor, tall or short, dark skin or light skin, sick or healthy, man, or woman, … you are above clouds in the sky.  Being air always remind me that how small I am.  How big the world is… I feel humble when I am in the air…  Also being air is unusual and beautiful experience.  Who does not get excited when you see sun hit white clouds under your eye level.

Q:  Do you have an interest or concern for the fact that air moves but land does not move as quickly, so that while everybody takes care to try to pollute less, they can have territorial qualms?

HS: When you are on the land, you are too close to whatever your situation.  It is hard to be objective when you are too close to something.  In the air you are more objective to yourself including human activity  in general.  Territorial qualms seem silly when you are in air.

Q:  What do you wish to communicate through you work other than your experience and lifestyle of going continuously back and forth from your motherland to other places via opportunities art ushers?  Or it the subjective experience the ultimatum of a canvas for an artist– namely yourself in this case?

HS:  I think the idea of my work is pretty simple.  Most people agree that stormy clouds from airplane window is beautiful.  Most people may have imagined jumping into clouds.  Also, most people think about stuff when they are in air like their past or memories.  Because I am an artist, I have a desire to fix those floating thought.  If I am a writer, I probably will write about it.  If my image remind or recall people similar experience I have, I will be happy.

Q: Is it preferable for a viewer to agree and say that living in air, living in air, living in the skies, traveling there, or having (perhaps frequent) periods of time spent in the sky to be a preferred practice?

HS:  Spending time in the sky is giving a different perspective to people.  It is not as dramatic as an astronaut look the earth from space shuttle but, it is closest experience normal people could experience.

Q:  What brings you to work visually?  What instigates or inspires you?  How often do you think of where you came from and other past memories– these themes which seem to perpetually voice out from you work?

HS:  My process of art making is pretty organic.  Idea come from many sources, such as movie, photograph, other artists works, art history, literature, toys, child plays, memories, or my own works from past.  I usually carry small notebook.  I make small sketches whenever Idea comes to my brain.  It often happen when I sit at cafe by myself.  Then later if I need to have solid information in order to make artworks, I research or do more specific drawing.  So, my work is reflection of my everyday experience and my background including memories.  Both voice are equally important for my art making process.  Some of my work is based on an idea from when I was 10 years old boy.  I am finally able to depict it by using art training.  To me, Making art work is taking care of unfinished business.

Q:  Is art making a means to an end or does the process matter more to you? I wonder this due to the layers of application in some of your pieces, as well as the layers if thought origins that are sort of patched together in a single image piece.

HS:  as an artists, I have desire to fix or depict images or thought in my head on canvas, or paper.  But, I would not know how the image end up till I finish the work.  The process of making often leads another thinking or idea visually and conceptually.  I like the idea od a singel image piece contains so many layer of thinking or aesthetic decision.

Interview between Ellice Park and Hiro Sakaguchi March 2009

Hiro Sakaguchi is a young Japanese artist who earned his MFA from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.  He’s shown his work around Pennsylvania, Japan, and is now branching out to other cities as well including our Baltimore.  His website expresses his interest “in making an object, which contains a fictional realm that is relevant to [his] experience as an artist and an individual in this global society.” As a painter, he creates imaginary worlds addressing contemporary issues related to current events and his hybrid identity as an artist of ethnic color.  His work features  confusion of scale while masterfully handling a light hearted aesthetic.

Microcosm had the pleasure of meeting him at the Maryland Art Place’s Julio Fine Arts Gallery  on the opening night of “Fantastical Imaginings” show. While Ms. J. Susan Isaacs did a wonderful job introducing all the artists featured in the group exhibit, Hiro really came alive in his few minutes in the spotlight.  He has a very engaging speak, largely utilizing theatrical hand gestures, and attentiveness.  What’s best is that the ideas he portrays and speaks of through and by his work is the same as the way he speaks aloud conversationally.  There is no hiding of his being of foreign birth, or at least having lived in a foreign place for a significant portion of his life.  Yet there is a familiarity to it all that makes his foreignness nothing like alienness.  It is all remarkably one and parallel with his artwork.

Hiro features two of his works at the group show, one of them being Chrysanthemum delivery (2009), a graphite and watercolor piece on paper, the other, Over Clouds (2007), a synthetic polymer paint, colored pencil and ink piece on canvas.  Talking to Hiro, it becomes clear that there is a very fluid perception of sense locale and the liberation it allows any given identity.  Over Clouds shows clouds with random variables of objects, persons and architectural details that gives points of reminisce.  As a whole, it almost looks like a print on a child’s pajamas, in that it exudes comfort, buoyancy, airiness, and its manner of rendering the images.  Chrysanthemum’s Delivery, on the other hand, is more objective in its composition with a clear vehicle with a rider, architecture, and landscape.  The geography and all the rest are fantastical as they are drawn out from his memories.  In both images, airplanes and structures resembling airplanes’ curves are features.  Having been in many different places just for his artistic study and profession alone, Hiro’s found himself to be very comfortable in airplanes.

There is something nearly apolitical about the atmosphere that Hiro finds very compelling and useful.  He says that while the airplane makes travel easy, the process of flying in an airplane with  others is also a very democratic experience.  “No matter who you are, your life is temporarily suspended in the sky.  Rich or poor, tall or short, dark skin or light skin, sick of healthy, man or woman, …  When you are on the land, you are too close to whatever your situation.  It is hard to be objective when you are too close to something.  Territorial qualms seem as silly when you are in the air.”  Hiro shares, in the purest way.  There are elements of Japan, elements of Philadelphia in these pieces and throughout his other works, but overall the works are not marked by a certain politick or geography.  There are recollections of experiences in air, with a blurred memory of ground whence the airplane took off of.

originally written by Ellice Park, March 2009, transcribed by Jenny Robinson February 2010

(Image stills are from “NOH-CHIM” at MAP’s “Losing Yourself” ©estherka)

In the teardrop-shaped walk through MAP’s “Losing Yourself”, kate hers’ video “NOH-CHIM” (2006) rests on the curve of the teardrop-shaped tour. In a show full of investigations on what it means to be a female in the 21st century, “NOH-CHIM” fits in with its examination on hers’ question of identity, conversing with the other pieces to be more than just a cultural dialogue on heritage and environment but also incorporating thoughts on gender and placement. It is a eight-minute looped video of her in South Korea performing happenings, sitting as a guest on a Korean show, posting up person-search posters, and then repeating the same happenings in a space where nobody sees and knows what’s going on except herself and the camera.. and then us, the viewers.

Conversing with hers, it becomes searingly revealed that as viewers, it is easy to lose sight of the overall because of our specific interests–finding comfort in the parts of her video which make sense with our own experiences, finding discomfort in the dizzying displacement so jarringly confronted, or for some, perhaps the reverse of what I just described. The point isn’t that hers is lost, or that we’re now aware of conclusions, or that this is art, or that this is not art, or that this is real and to be dealt with, or that this is a construction and therefore partially fictional–there might not be a point at all. Do we have to find a point? “NOH-CHIM” translates to that which is lost, from Korean to English. How can we ever find a point?

Whether or not our identities are ever discovered through the chaos of uncountable taxonomic categories beckoning our self-division, we can use our stories and experiences and dizziness to recognize potentials for change. Change for someone else, perhaps someone younger, so that they don’t have to go through what we went through. Each new generation is a promise of something potentially greater with unpredictable change.

So the conversation turns with the loop of “NOH-CHIM” onto hers’ current video-in-the-works, “Vanishing Horizon”. The work-in-progress is an artistic documentary, providing some history of the region and its name change, but mostly showing the children of the orphanage and how much love and care they are given from the orphanages’ founder, Tendol Gyazler who became an orphan by accident at a tender young age. There is a lone tree swaying against a backdrop of rolling green hills and cotton-swab-thick clouds. Stacks of rice fill an entire building whose doors are wide open, pigs are in crates at the city market, workers with trucks, blissful children with dirty faces, we get glimpses of the Tibet around Gyazler’s two orphanages. The children joke with each other, throwing up peace signs, skipping down cobbled walkways, swinging high on playsets and doing traditional festivities. It seems no matter where we are in the world, children share a universal trait liveliness and glee when playing, unaware of anything but the present moments.

This project was funded through the Pacific Rim Grant at University of California, inspired by relationships, and realized through collaboration in friendship–all towards recognizing and raising awareness along with funds for two orphanages in Tibet.

With kate hers, the viewer grows to see art’s ability to instigate change in dialogue: away from engaging others in our dizzying search to settle–at times, inherited–displacement, and towards helping the future’s children enjoy life without the distraction of questions which may never get answered.

To see her work in progress, Click Here.

“Losing Yourself” at MAP will be up until March 27th, 2010–Be sure to visit!

Ellice Park

“English Only” is a political movement aimed at establishing English as the only permissible language allowed in use of all government legislation, communications, forms, and actions.  The movement’s overarching goal is to set English as the United State’s official language, not necessarily eliminating the use of “foreign” languages but definitely undermining them.

The most recent event related to English Only took place in Nashville, Tennessee.  The amendment put forward by English Only advocates was voted against on January 22nd, 2009. Fortunately, the proposal was denied.  The proposed charter amendment 1 and 2 basically read: no person shall have a right to government services in any other language other than English. Over 40,000 voters were against ratification of the amendment while about 30,000 voters were for the amendment.

I am particularly bias against this event because it greatly affects me as an immigrant who is still making a place for myself in the United States. When I first got off the flight at Dulles Airport from Korea six years ago, I felt like I needed to change my clothes, not because they were dirty or anything but because I felt like I needed to prepare in becoming a new person. The flight was thirteen hours long, I was tired but pleased to feel a sense of nostalgia of the only other trip I made to America eleven years ago.  Of course that time I came as a tourist visiting family, this time I came as an immigrant.  There was a strange intermingling of the tasty, buttery sensation of America I remembered feeling as ten-year-old girl and the new anxiety and gathering of strength I was feeling as an immigrant.  When I landed at J.F.K airport back in the summer of 1992, I saw popcorn and delighted in its smell.  Eleven years later at Dulles, I could smell the popcorn again.  I knew things were completely different now, to start off with I was in an entirely different airport. Yet I kept going back to the same feelings I felt as a kid, as a tourist, full of giddy delusions of America.  It wasn’t until I remember that I wasn’t going back that it hit me. I booked a one-way ticket, not round-trip that summer in 2003.

Six years later, I became a naturalized citizen of the United States.  I pledged an oath of allegiance and denounced any loyalties to South Korea. I had a new motherland now. For the ceremony, speaking the oath of allegiance in English was worthwhile. It bound me with the other naturalizing citizens in the ceremony with me. But I knew that these English words were probably just as hollow, if not more, to many of these new citizens.  If there was any real oath to be pledged, it would be said in our mother tongues.  Even though the English Only proposition is limited to the communications and actions of government, it sounds, to me, like the first comers bossing around new comers. Learn or Leave despite the nature of the United States, the diversity, which should be celebrated not delineated. The citizens of the United States are all from different countries and should be respectful for the freedom being sought for by all who come.

If advocators for the English Only movement are concerned with immigrants adopting English and assimilating then they should advocate further support for government interpreters and foreign language programs because being in the dark helps no one.  If being able to communicate is the issue then the communication must come from both sides.  One can’t be expected to understand if no one, especially the government, doesn’t lend a helping hand.  Immigrants know more than enough about the saying “When in Rome do as Romans do”. We all know that English is the assumed “official” language of the United States. But this doesn’t need to be enforced and shoved in people’s faces, if it’s going to be English Anything than how about English First.

Immigrants always make the present progressive. They are learning English from the past to the future constantly with willingness and desire to settle down in this country and being hopeful for a better life.  Assimilation is a process. As each generation makes the progress, it will be naturally resolved into a new society. No law can speed it up. Lawful enforcement is merely imposing an artificial language barrier. It rather causes helpless immigrants and incurs marginalized immigrants coming from non-English speaking countries. Speaking English shouldn’t be a privilege or a struggle or a prerequisite or a burden.  It shouldn’t be a statement like “Learn or Leave.”  It’s a process of patience.  Children of immigrants clearly pick up English perfectly without their parent’s language being beaten out of them.  To many of us, ABC is not as easy as one, two, three.  Those of use who have the privilege of speaking English shouldn’t expect it to come so quickly to others, and we most definitely shouldn’t expect others to just drop their first-language just because “In America we speak American.”  Language is a huge part of our identities, and foreign languages should be shared as gifts, like wise, English should be shared not enforced.

Jae Lee, MICA BFA ’09

The current ASA exhibition in Brown’s Rosenberg gallery not only discusses the literal and psychological hunger artists have towards their art, it displays a varied spectrum of mediums and subject matter while at the same time correlating to the subject of Asia.  There are examples of work made in fiber, garment design, illustration, painting, paper-cut, drawing, and silkscreen, of which I will only describe a few.

Son Young Kwon’s large silkscreen stretched on panels entitled Americanize, speaks of the spread of American consumer culture onto Eastern culture through mass media, fast food, and electronics with logos of Disney, McDonald’s and Apple.  The construction of the prints stretched on screens that are hinged together are reminiscent the display used with Asian brush painting.  Thus in a sense the American images are replacing the traditional images and practices of the past.

On the flip side, aspects of Asian consumer products are also shown in Jennifer Tam’s felted sculptures of two white dogs barking at one another, entitled Mitsy and Tina Have a Discussion.  The piece is facetious in the manner that the two small, white dogs appear to be fiercely barking at one another with angrily contorted expressions. Yet they both appear to be very pristine well kept dogs in the softness of the white fur that is rendered and the pink ribbons on their ears.  It appears to have an aspect of the cutesy quality of Asian consumer products, which transform functional utilitarian objects such as pencils and rulers into cartoonish and frilly objects with tassels.

Further into dark humor, Max Lewis displays a series ten illustrative ink and gold leaf drawings in a narrative of the gradual fall of a golden-hearted young boy.  The series is entitled The Dark Forest.  The boy has his heart ripped out, and his tempted by a devil, which consumes his soul.  This series displays a stylistic look perhaps reminiscent of Japanese manga comics.

Another piece discusses the blending of two cultures, specifically Korea and Japan through the ethnicity in the garment piece by Yeji Byun entitled When Shibori meets Hanbok.  The garment displays a layered floor length skirt and jacket with long sleeves that is cut short at the torso and tied in the front, the style of the Korean traditional hanbok.  However, the fabric is dyed in the Japanese practice of Shibori.  The piece may represent a biracial lineage, the cultural influence of Japan when during their occupation in Korea, or simply a blending of the two cultures.

Overall the current ASA exhibition was successful in the sense that it displayed a variety of mediums and aspects of Asian culture.   It is highly recommended that one should visit the show before it is taken down on February 8th.

Jenny Robinson 2010

A few days ago, the Asian Student Alliance (ASA) finished putting up a show called “Hunger: The Artist’s Insatiable Nature” in the Rosenberg Gallery at MICA. I acted as curator – a first for me, despite having a Curatorial Studies concentration.

The concept of Hunger came to mind almost immediately since most ASA events center around food. The club had been holding these events for some time when I joined last year. As former ASA officer Julie Cheng told me, food is a way to bring people together – an easy and enjoyable way to introduce people to another culture.

The feeling of hunger is maybe the one thing all artists have in common. Whether you paint, draw, sculpt, perform, most likely you’re making art because you have to: it’s the fourth basic need besides eating, breathing, and sleeping. When you go a long time without creating art, something withers away inside you; and the feeling of fulfillment you get right after making a work of art is not unlike the feeling of being stuffed full after a delicious meal. That feeling doesn’t last forever though, and soon enough you find yourself in the studio again, feeding that undying craving.

All of the pieces I chose for the show had a palpable feeling of excitement and involvement of the heart or mind or both. Some of the pieces spoke of hunger more specifically, for hunger can also appear in art as a particular obsession (for example with a subject or material). However, they were all visually diverse in terms of media and style, and this presented the greatest challenge in curating the show – how to make them cohesive. I felt as if I had been given a handful of magnetic poetry, and I had to make the most pleasing sentence possible instead of a jumble of words. Putting aside inexperience and time constraints, I sincerely hope I did end up saying something pertinent and cohesive.

I felt that this theme of artistic motivation – hunger – was important to address in an art school. Yes, artists are bonded together by this similar desire and need to make art, but only a small percentage of art students actually stay in the studio after graduation. Where does the hunger go? Does it lie dormant, expressing itself whenever it can, or does it die altogether? I, and probably countless others, have a gnawing paranoia that I will fall into the majority here. It would be interesting to try to predict which category the artists in the ASA show will fall into. It’s a poignant fact for art students to face, but this process of natural selection will eventually happen. Perhaps all we can do in the time being is to celebrate hunger while it’s still there.

Jennifer Tam

“Hunger: The Artist’s Insatiable Nature” will be up in the Rosenberg Gallery (2nd floor Brown) until February 8.

The modern concept of ending a marriage out of the mutual wishes of both husband and wife was unheard of in China until 1922, when the first Western-style divorce occurred between a woman named Chang Yu-i and the famous poet Hsu Chih-mo. Before that, when a marriage ended, the husband always left the wife for one or more reasons, called the Qi Chu (七出), the “Seven Outs”:

  1. She disobeyed his parents
  2. She could not bear him sons
  3. She committed adultery
  4. She acted jealous and was unwilling to take in a concubine
  5. She were repulsively sick
  6. She talked too much
  7. She committed theft

The wife became so disgraced afterwards that her only options were prostitution, nunnery, or suicide. The first Western divorce caused by lack of love was so scandalous that it remained a popular topic of gossip for years. Chang Yu-i never discussed the matter with her parents, and they never directly acknowledged it. Even to their deaths, they retained this shame-induced silence.

Until the past few years, failure of marriage was still regarded with shame in China; increasing Westernization of the country has alleviated traditional expectations for marriage, and the divorce rate now stands at about 21% (still less than half of what it is in the U.S.). Divorce and separation continue, however, to go unacknowledged by people with more traditional values – people such as my family.

My parents have been separated now for about eight years, but we have never discussed this with each other, much less our extended family. My grandparents don’t even know – they just assume my parents are still living under the same roof. I wrote the following piece in an effort to understand what my family refuses to discuss, and deal with the ever increasing disconnect from my father that resulted from the separation.


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“This is natural enough, as the picture lives only through the man who is looking at it.” This is a quote from Pablo Picasso who created a revolution to the world. He may be inspirational but more importantly he is my mentor. When I was raised in S. Korea, many people criticized Picasso for his overrated artist who created works of art which anyone possibly could create. It was hard to believe Picasso’s essence of art because people rather visualize his work than picturing the idea behind it. By profoundly studying his experiences, paintings, and philosophy, he allowed me to open my visionary mind of art which helped me to escape from my restricted cultural background.
Before I discuss about my cultural identity, I want to share my personal meaning of art. I believe the essence and the definition of art is “emotion.” In our today’s perspective of art, everything we see today such as nature, buildings, clothes, and even a piece of an empty water bottle is defined as art. This is due to the affection of the emotion. Emotion causes a physical object to become a subjective idea. Without the emotion, an object such as an empty water bottle is what it is. The water bottle can be defined as a thin layer of plastic material usually formed in cylinder shape. If the emotion invades the logic, it can be defined as soulless that have lost hope in its existence. The subjective meaning can vary by persons by their emotion and causes diverse aesthetic tastes. By their nature of emotion, people choose their personal path which can lead to many different lives. This obviously happens when creating a piece of work. Their decisions to plan and make is the cause of emotion and the outcome of the work is the outcome of the emotion. When the viewer reads the painting,  it triggers the emotion to react in personal ways. The emotion paints the visualization and the visualization paints the emotion. The work of art is not only viewed as the degree of technique but also as an emotional response. However the view of technique can be affected by the emotion but the purpose of work of art is how the viewer’s emotion responds to artist’s emotion that is hidden behind the work. This is my purpose of art. A work of art lives only through the viewer and every life and objects is made to that purpose. People who create works of art do not define them as an only artist but anyone being able to personally interpret the work of art defines them as an artist. Many students in S. Korea have well-built techniques, but lack in ideal and personal interpretation of art. This is one of the problems my culture is facing and this will continue on for future generations due to their strict mind set as well as the fixed art system in S. Korean Art community. These students are potential and ambitious but did not acknowledge to understand the hidden world of art. They considered “excellent techniques” as “good art” and it is true for every artist to consider. However innovations and revolutions does not come from technical elements, but from extensive explorations. Picasso was an excellent technical artist, but his success came from his ideal vision. He traveled beyond the boundaries of visual restrictions and found the treasures of new ideas that have opened up the new visions to the world. This is the element my culture has forgotten and people from all over the world including, Artists, professors, students are traveling to S. Korea and other foreign countries to take action against this problematic condition. This is one of the valuable understanding every artist should be aware of and should take action toward their culture. I as an MICA student, as well as an important individual Artist, will take this opportunity as a chance to bring new idea of art to S. Korea, including countries where they lack the appreciation of true nature of art. Picasso was successful because he has worked toward the subjective idea and his task of bringing new idea to the world. Before you wonder off, ask yourself, what is “your” definition of Art?

by Albert Young-Chan Kim

1st Year Undergraduate at Maryland Institute College of Art

Student Artist and Microcosm member

Ever since I immigrated to America in the year 2000, I have celebrated Korean thanksgiving with my family annually. We would have most of our families gathered at our house, eating Songpyeon (rice cake with different kinds of sweet fillings that is steamed on pine needles), fish, Ttuk (rice cake), japchae (noodles), etc. At the end of the day, we would have a bow ritual to our grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles, to show gratefulness and appreciation for all of their hard work. In return, us children would get little sums of money.

When I first entered elementary school in 2001, I remember the school teaching me about American Thanksgiving. Knowing very little English, I couldn’t grasp the concept right away. It just fascinated me because the school was covered with pictures of turkeys, pumpkins, and orange decorations. I went back home to my mother asking her, “What is thanksgiving?” She answered, “It’s just like Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving).” Historically, Chuseok is thought to be originated 2000 years ago where Sila King, Euri, organized a weaving contest to help the weaving industry grow. The losers of the contests had to prepare foods for the winners. As the time went on, Chuseok came in to shape where Koreans celebrated for 3 days long. Family gathering became very important in Chuseok. As I got older and started to attend middle school, the American thanksgiving became clearer.

It was interesting to see that during one thanksgiving, my mother actually adopted the idea of cooking a Turkey during with the traditional Korean thanksgiving meal. I have no idea if that was because she thought I became more “American” or if she wanted to combine the two cultures together, trying to teach me how to be a Korean and an American.

However, now that I came to MICA, I was celebrating only the American thanksgiving. It was awkward. Turkey, mash potatoes and gravy–foods that I felt unfamiliar with for a thanksgiving dinner. This shift of culture sort of confused me. Living half of my life in both countries, there was no clear identity that I fit in. When I was with my family, I celebrated Korean thanksgiving.  When I was with my friends, I celebrated American Thanksgiving. Now being away from home for the past two thanksgivings, it would be very awkward to go back home and celebrate the traditional thanksgiving. Somehow the turning over of a leaf has evolved into a large change.

Nevertheless, the confusion clarified as I turned 20 this year. I have concluded that it is not important which tradition I celebrate, as long as I remember my Korean origin, and appreciate both cultures. Even though food, customs, traditions, and origination were different, I think the thanksgiving in both cultures shared a common concept of gratefulness. Both countries brings families and communities together to prepare and share delicious food, honor their ancestors/respective deities and appreciate all of the family members for being one another’s their daily lives.

by Angela Ahn,


MICA BFA Candidate 2012

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