Art show debuts at JBU
An art installation featuring the work of artist Eve Nam Oh and about a dozen local American Heritage Girls debuted at John Brown University on Tuesday evening.
The exhibit, titled “Sharing Our Time,” will be open through Feb. 26 in the Windgate Visual Arts East lobby.
Nam Oh is one of six students in the first cohort of JBU’s Master of Fine Arts in Collaborative Design program, which began last fall, according to program director Todd Goehner. Upon entering the program, Nam Oh was awarded the distinguished artist award and received an opportunity to do a gallery show, he said.
For her project, she worked with the American Heritage Girls, teaching them various art techniques and encouraging their creativity. She met with her students for two to three hours a week last fall. The girls, who ranged in age from first- through eighth-grade, learned to use mediums such as oil pastels, watercolors and acrylics.
The girls’ work is on display alongside Nam Oh’s personal paintings and sculpture. Photos and a video of Nam Oh and the girls working together are also featured in the installation.
“Eve did a fantastic job,” Goehner said. “She had her work in the show as well and she is very talented.”
A crowd of about 200 people, including community members who are friends and family of the young students whose artwork is featured, attended the opening, Goehner said.
“Her show turned out great,” Goehner said. “It was a big success.”
Nam Oh received her undergraduate degree in sculpture at Ewha Women’s University in South Korea, according to her artist statement. She studied and mastered wooden and stone carving, terracotta, welding, and acrylic and watercolor painting, it states.
After she married, Nam Oh moved to the United States and refocused on watercolor painting, winning numerous awards for her work. She also crafts hand-sewn leather goods and makes silver and gemstone jewelry.
Nam Oh said that when she was growing up, education in South Korea was in a pre-fixed format in every aspect.
“South Korea’s education was based on the presumption that ‘every question has to be answered in one way with one right answer,’” she wrote in her artist statement. The mindset was deeply ingrained in the culture and limited the creative abilities of children, she said.
“The educational process that I went through to become a professional artist was very challenging,” she wrote. “The process itself was very intensive and effective in developing respect, but there was not a system that encouraged artistic creativity.”
She took a very different approach while working with the American Heritage students. Instead of focusing on advanced art techniques, she exposed them to a wide variety of art materials and techniques, encouraging them to follow their own creativity.
“I don’t want to put them in a cage or a box,” she said.
Throughout the project, Nam Oh said she learned more than she taught.
“We really enjoyed our time together,” she said.
Colleen Hubert said her two daughters — Brinley, almost 11, and Addison, 9 — had never been to an art show and didn’t know what to expect. They were amazed to see their artwork in frames on the wall.
“They were like ‘Ah, that’s mine! I did that!’” she said.
Hubert said that Brinley and Addison really enjoyed going to art class each week. They got do try a wide variety of projects. The girls are homeschooled and have been learning about art through a series of videos. Nam Oh’s program gave them a chance to practice the techniques they have been learning in their homeschool art curriculum. The girls especially liked that Hubert gave them creative freedom, she said.
JBU’s master of fine arts in collaborative design is a three-year program that focuses on design thinking, and cultivating creativity and innovative problem solving, Goehner said. The goal is to teach students to tackle complex problems and solve them with a creative mindset. Some of the problems students explore are visual, but others are system or communication based, or social cause based, he said.
The first cohort of students comes from a diverse set of backgrounds, representing fields that range from biology to ministry.
The program is JBU’s first terminal degree, meaning it will qualify graduates to teach at the college level, Goehner said. The degree is offered on a flexible basis designed for working professionals and students can attend classes remotely through live streaming video, he said.
Eve Nam Oh worked with American Heritage Girls, teaching them artistic techniques, last fall. Her collaborative art installation is on display at John Brown University this month.
Steve Snediker, visual arts professor, looked at the artwork in Eve Nam Oh’s art installation with one of the American Heritage Girls.