“Forget Me Not,” in Seoul, Korea, features the work of 18 SMFA students and alumni. Developed with Carlos Noguera (BFA ’07) and co-curated by Joo Lee Kang (MFA ’11) and Eunice Choi (MFA ’12), the exhibition runs from August 1-23, 2013. We caught up with co-curator Joo Lee Kang, and asked her about the exhibition and her time at SMFA.
How did “Forget Me Not” come about?
When I started at SMFA, there were a few Korean students, and I got along well with the other Asian students. We bonded because of the fact that we had no friends or family nearby. We spent most holidays together and helped each other with our Review Boards and essays. We had always discussed having a group show because there were certain interesting common links in our works and we thought it would be a way that we could keep in touch, share our interests and support each other.
Since most international students go back to their country after graduating, so it’s hard to keep in touch. Thanks to many, I settled as an artist in Boston and realized that how much I missed my international friends. As an artist, I knew how much it’d be worth to keep supporting each other and exchanging our stories and experiences.
As time went by, I could feel the ratio of international students in SMFA getting higher and I could actually meet Koreans who were eager for the idea of a reunion group exhibition. I thought it was the time to make it happen. It started with Koreans this time, but I hope it can be expanded to all international or even to all students and alumni and have it be an annual event.
How did other students and alumni get involved?
I started to collect the contact information of Korean students and alumni, I asked around and searched on Facebook, Kakao Talk, word of mouth, and made a list of Korean students and alumni. I emailed them the idea of this group exhibition and had a general call for art.
What was it like co-curating an exhibition?
I’m so glad that we pulled this off. I always had this idea (organizing a group show), but it was hard to find the right moment. Thanks to SMFA and the Alumni Committee, it happened. Stephanie Boyé, the Director of Alumni Relations, really encouraged me a lot; she introduced me to Carlos Noguera (BFA ’07), the director of Spahn Gallery and teacher in Dwight School in Seoul. Carlos was delighted to help, and the exhibition happened because of everyone’s help. I can’t thank everyone enough.
Choosing work for the show was a struggle. I think I could have been a better curator if I could have chosen based on one thing, either theme or quality. I wanted this show to be like a glue for all of us. Eunice Choi (MFA ’12) helped a lot with this process. To fulfill the purpose, of reconnecting, communicating, supporting and inspiring each other, we decided to include both current students and alumni.
What have you been up to since graduation?
I graduated in 2011 and stared exhibiting and traveling back and forth between Korea and Boston. I had an exhibition at Gallery NAGA last fall and artist demonstrations at the Museum of Fine Arts this spring. I also taught a drawing course at SMFA this past spring semester and working as a part-time faculty in Seoul Digital University in 2012. Currently, my work is in a group exhibition in Danforth Art Museum until August 4 and I’ve just returned from Germany for the SMFA Traveling Fellowship. I’m now looking forward to installing and celebrating “Forget Me Not”!
What are your plans for the next year?
It is always hard to answer about the specific future plans as an emerging artist. My biggest plan would be following opportunities! For now, I’ll have a group show, “Pedigree,” at the New Art Center in Newton and participate in the street piano festival “Play Me, I’m Yours” this September. For next year, I’m anticipating another exhibition at Gallery NAGA and I want to organize the second version of “Forget Me Not.”
Thinking back on your time at SMFA, were there any people or classes that were particularly inspiring?
There were a lot of wonderful teachers I’ve worked with at SMFA. I felt so encouraged and also, challenged. I worked with Gerry Bergstein, Magda Campos-Pons, Erica Daborn, Mark Cooper, Patte Loper, Nan Freeman, David Davison, Charles Goss, David Kelley and I bet I will wake up tomorrow and remember names that I forgot to mention. In addition to faculty, there were my classmates who I’m fond of and admire. I miss the long conversation with teachers and peers in my Mission Hill studio.
How do you feel SMFA prepared you for what you’re doing now, and where you want to go?
I would say that coming to SMFA for grad school was one of the most excellent decisions I have ever made. I was just an ambitious art student when I started; I had no idea about the art world and Boston. The people at SMFA were so supportive. They didn’t catch me a fish, but taught me how to be patient; to enjoy the work and keep each other company. I’m trying to do my best in my spot and will do my best to keep it up!
Thank you, Joo Lee!