Summer has found me at last, if only for a short time. I’ve finished my first year of graduate school, completed my first internship, started a second, shadowed and assisted various mentors, spent countless hours in studio, traveled in and out of the country for art-related events, applied to more shows and other opportunities than I care to admit, talked, theorized, argued … and I still don’t know what to say when people ask me what it is that I’m doing.
Nothing. Everything. Depending on who I’m having the conversation with, both answers work.
As I continue to recuperate from a recent trip to Seoul, South Korea I can’t help but wonder what it is that I’m actually doing here. I can’t help strategizing this fall semester’s courses and I’m really trying to not think too hard on what I’m doing after graduation next year. And now taking on new responsibilities around my South Philly home (hello, lease!). Summer is starting to feel more stressful than my school year.
In some ways the trip to Seoul was exactly what I needed: complete submersion into an environment totally foreign to me. I had to just give up to the flow of the trip — no personal internet access or any grasp of the Korean language forced me to just let…things…be. Luckily Korean food is delicious and the people are, generally, very polite and friendly.
While in Seoul I participated in a number of art related events, mainly the Seoul International Book Fair. Over the few days I helped out at the University of the Arts Bookarts and Printmaking department booths, I learned a few important things. Namely, most people don’t know what book art or artists’ books are. Or, if an artistic concept isn’t understood immediately, most people are less likely to buy. Shiny, bright things are good. And finally, never ever underestimate the value of a good, sturdy display copy. These could be considered life lessons as well.
I consider my time in Seoul as baptism by fire into the world of international galleries and art fairs. Much like my time so far in grad school: I just don’t know how to put my experience into words. Overwhelming and wonderful, whatever it is that I’m doing, I’m excited to see where it takes me.