Artist Friends in the Korean Expat Scene
Art is something that I am fated to enjoy but that am not very talented at creating. If weaving together hyperbole and sarcasm in everyday speech were an art, I’d be a master, but alas, it is not. Luckily, I have been able to befriend many an artist to live vicarious, creative lives through, so all is not lost.
In college, I was friends with the film majors, and here in Korea, I’ve become friends with talented musicians, artists, actors, and writers. One of the things I love about being here is that almost all of my foreigner friends have stable jobs that allow them to pursue their other interests. Korea has a funny way of teasing out people’s talents and letting them perfect their craft far from home.
This past weekend, I got to bask in the artistic glory of my good friend, Ginna Lambert’s work. Ginna, a fellow English teacher from Richmond Virginia, is extremely talented in almost every field that I am not. Her collages, paintings, and even doodles are detailed and beautiful; her video art is eye-catching and enchanting; her singing is nothing short of angelic. Why she chose to be friends with me, a rude, loud-mouthed girl from New York, is a mystery, but I’m certainly thankful that she has.
Ginna has been a contributor to [b]racket magazine, a magazine here in Korea that showcases the work of artists living in Korea, both Korean and expat. Her work has been featured in the magazine a couple of times, and she was invited to exhibit her work in a gallery in the city of Daegu, about an hour and a half north of where we live.
A group of us headed up to Daegu to see her show on a Saturday evening. I was excited to go for a several reasons, the chief of which was to see Ginna’s art, but also Daegu has Mexican restaurants and good clubs, so those were nice bonuses. Ginna had gone up the weekend before to set up her work and was super excited for us all to come up and see it too.
My friends, Jackie, Sam, and I arrived at the gallery half an hour before the show was supposed to start. We wandered around the gallery, and quickly found Ginna’s work: a video piece and a collage. We frantically searched for our phones to take pictures, only to be disappointed by the fact that our phones were dead or dying. I won’t spoil Ginna’s artwork for you, as I’m sure she’ll be famous and you’ll be able to see her art in a gallery someday. Just trust me, it’s awesome.
What I will say is that over the next hour or so as we looked around the gallery, met the artists, watched a performance art piece, and made new friends. I was insanely impressed by the other work the artists had done. I didn’t go to the gallery expecting to check out other people’s art, as I was really just excited for Ginna, but the other artists were just as talented and kind as she is.
I’m so grateful to Ginna, the artists, and the folks over at [b]racket magazine for creating their work and doing what they do. It would be easy to come to Korea and just teach and sleep like I do, but these people are creating, and creators should be commended for what they bring into the world. As one of the administrators of the university where the gallery was held said, “you bring things to light that express what words cannot.”
I didn’t think I would come to Korea and meet lots of artists and creative types. I just figured I’d show up, teach English, and maybe, just maybe, make some friends. I’m so happy that many of the expats here haven’t just sat on their butts, waiting for their contracts to end. They’ve gone out and photographed, painted, filmed, and written about their experiences in the world around them. The best part is that they’ve shared their work with me, and I look forward to much more of their work in the future. Keep creating friends, and I’ll do my best to take it all in.