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Conversations with the Inspiring Kyungmin Park

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kyungmin Park.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I was born in South Korea and lived there until I was twenty years old. As a child, my initial dream was to create claymation. I was fortunate enough to have very supportive parents. When I was twelve years old, it became very clear to me that I enjoyed making art more than anything else.

My early art education in Korea was very traditional and skill-based, which helped me develop a solid foundation as an artist. This background became the key to my teaching philosophy: that students (especially in ceramics) should experience both the technical and conceptual elements of the medium. My approach focuses on teaching technical skills first to build a strong foundation, which then enables students to express their creative conceptual approaches on top of that foundation.

While attending college in South Korea, I had the chance to take ceramic sculpture classes with an American professor, Kerri Buxton, who inspired my fascination with the difference between how Americans and Koreans view their art. While the traditional Korean philosophy is centered on developing a technique through replication, Buxton’s American approach taught me how to create personalized works of art by incorporating subject matter and materials that reflected my individual tastes. After eighteen months of experiencing both the Korean and American approaches to art creation, I decided to study in America, where I could combine the two different countries’ approaches and create a personal way of communication through art. In 2006, I transferred to Alfred University in Alfred, NY, and I fell in love with a new country and new opportunities as a female artist.

For the past 12 years I have been living  in America, I have called six different states home: NY, NC, GA, AL, MT, and MA. During this time, I have participated in many national and international artist residency programs and exhibited in various places. My time in America has allowed me to explore new art scenes, and develop new approaches to creating. These experiences continue to shape and inform my work today.

Currently, I call Massachusetts home and am a Assistant Professor in the Fine Arts Department at Endicott College in Beverly, MA. I have always been driven to teach, and throughout my life, I have served as a teacher in a number of different capacities; each experience has strengthened my desire to continue teaching. There is an important connection between being an active artist and an inspiring educator.  I serve as a role model for my students by having the same commitment and passion for my own artwork that I have for teaching. I find that witnessing a student’s expanding ability to stretch beyond his or her limitations inspires me to challenge myself as an artist constantly.

Has it been a smooth road?
Growing up in a very traditional, male-oriented culture was not an easy road to start on. I was oftentimes labeled as a female that carried independent thoughts and who was not good at hiding my own feelings.

In 2006, when I decided to leave South Korea for a better art education and future, I had to leave my friends and family behind. Living alone in a new country wasn’t easy for a twenty-year-old. However, I had a clear reason for making this sacrifice, I wanted to be able to freely pursue my passion in Art.

Living in America wasn’t all that great and amazing at the start. The biggest challenge I had was the language barrier. It was difficult to not be able to express my thoughts and feelings as clearly as I wanted to. But, as an artist, I could speak to people through my artwork without needing to explain my feelings and thoughts verbally.

After 12 years of living in America, I can say I have overcome the language barrier, but now I am still fighting to be a strong female with the confidence to vocalize my thoughts and ideas. As a female person of color, I’ve had my own tough times and rough roads, but I have never changed who I am and I never will. The biggest difference between me now and twenty-year-old Kyungmin is that I now know no one can stop me from me being who I truly am.

Believe in yourself. You know what your passion is. Keep trying and making work until you can find your own answer and continue doing it until you get to your goals.

Please tell us more about your work, what you are currently focused on and most proud of.
I am a Ceramic Artist, and an Assistant Professor in the Fine Arts department at Endicott College in Beverly, MA.

My figurative sculptures present the theme of “return to purity” through the stylistic medium of a child. A child’s untamed imagination can create a new and exciting world from a single object. The combination of an uncorrupted point of view, a strong imagination, overflowing curiosity, and the desire to push boundaries creates a very special mindset particular to children. The adult world, by contrast, restrains the formerly infinite imagination by imposing responsibilities and practical concerns. Society puts limits on the way, we, as individuals can perceive things, and as an artist, I am interested in expanding those confines. Inspired by the perspective of childhood, I seek a sort of regression to a childlike state of mind within which I can create and explore a place beyond these boundaries.

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Image Credit:
Jesse Borkowski

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