Concordia's Fulbright scholar-in-residence, Kwon Kisoo, brings his expertise in traditional and contemporary South Korean art to students.
Kwon Kisoo cannot remember the precise reason he joined an art club in elementary school. But he enjoyed the experience enough to pursue art throughout the rest of his schooling.
"I felt that making art work was a more effective way to express my mind and my thoughts," he says. "When I use my art images, I could easily get closer to other people. That's why I became an artist."
Kwon was trained in traditional Korean painting at Hongik University, widely known as the best art institution in South Korea. However, the art he creates now takes a step away from tradition.
Although his pieces are often inspired by traditional Asian paintings, Kwon's work is contemporary. It is colorful, full of flowers, swirls and brightly colored bamboo shafts. Central to most of his pieces is a smiling little symbol named Dongguri, who is often placed in different situations.
Kwon had already heard about the Fulbright scholar-in-residence program when two Concordia professors, Heidi Goldberg and Susan Lee, brought Concordia art students to visit his studio in South Korea. Lee recommended Kwon apply.
"Many artists would like to get into a residence program, because it is very useful and helpful to have new experiences for their ideas and art," Kwon says.
The Fulbright scholar-in-residence program helps higher education programs in the United States connect with international scholars. Scholars may apply for grants that cover a semester to a full academic year.
At Concordia, Kwon teaches a course, "Ink Painting and Mixed Media," in the art department. His students learn about East Asian black ink painting and how it connects to contemporary art. His wife led a metal art workshop earlier in the semester. Kwon also presented at this year's Faith, Reason and World Affairs Symposium at Concordia.
Kassondra Ptak '17, a studio art and global studies (Asian studies concentration) major, says she really loves Kwon's class.
“We're learning a lot more than just ink painting. For example, we worked on carving our own seals from stone, which is a lot harder than I had thought it would be,” she says.
Kwon and his family will be on campus for a semester, but he already talks of missing Concordia.
"I am getting wonderful experiences from my students, the college system, my neighbors, and the natural environment in Fargo and Moorhead,” he says. "I believe those things will help my art and life."