GVSU continues ongoing art exchange with SeoulTech University

GVL / Sara Carte
The Seoultech & GVSU Art and Design Student Exchange Exhibition is exhibited in the West Wing Gallery at Eberhard Center on Tuesday, March 20.

GVL / Sara Carte The Seoultech & GVSU Art and Design Student Exchange Exhibition is exhibited in the West Wing Gallery at Eberhard Center on Tuesday, March 20.

Arie Nienhuis

Since 2008, Grand Valley State University has been conducting an annual art exchange with Seoul National University of Science and Technology (SeoulTech) in Seoul, South Korea. This year, GVSU will host another collection of student art from the university, in turn with art from GVSU being displayed in SeoulTech.

This year’s collection features a total of 40 photographs of SeoulTech student artwork from the realms of ceramics, industrial design and fine art, among others. The photos highlight the range of student talent fostered in Korea, allowing students to appreciate and understand the similarities and differences of art from another country. 

Hoon Lee, associate professor and ceramics program coordinator at GVSU, has been overseeing the collaboration since its beginning. He sees the exchange as a great way for both GVSU and its students to maintain a connection with Korea.

“When I came here in 2004, I found that we had no formal connection with Korea,” Lee said. “SeoulTech has one of the best general arts and design programs in Korea, so it is good for my students, as they can (have their art displayed in Korea).”

Lee also sees the exchange as a way for students to see that students overseas are doing the same type of work they are doing.

“They are same-level students, these bachelor-level students,” Lee said. “They have the same ceramics classes, we have the same ceramics classes. It’s the same age, same level, same class, same medium.”

Joel Zwart, curator of exhibitions at GVSU, sees similar benefits in the program, especially in that the exchange allows students to bridge the gap between cultures.

“It’s akin to the benefits that students reap from participating in study abroad programs,” Zwart said. “This exchange is small version of doing that. For these art students and faculty that are participating in this exchange, it is a way of opening up the world. In a way, it makes the world smaller.”

The ease of translation of art is another benefit Zwart sees in the exchange. In particular, he sees visual media as a method of allowing students a way to connect on a deep level.

“Both art and education are easily translated across cultures,” Zwart said. “The language barrier is obviously there, so those physical exchanges have been challenging. But they have been successful because the thing that links them together is a deep interest in visual media.”

In terms of getting involved with the exchange and other international programs, both Lee and Zwart point to the Padnos International Center as the best source for students seeking guidance.

“I talk to some of my students, and more than half of them do not know about the (Padnos International) Center,” Lee said. “A lot of programs have the same tuition, so go there, read the brochures, and look at their website.”

The 2017 GVSU & SeoulTech Art & Design Student Exchange Exhibition will be shown in the West Wall Gallery at the L.V. Eberhard Center from now until June 22. More information can be found at www.gvsu.edu/artgallery.