A Korea-based artist is seeking help to create an all-in-one art space in Seoul.
Printmaker and painter Mike Stewart is raising funds to open a studio in the city’s Yongsan area to provide a venue for English language art classes, workshops, artists’ studios and networking events.
Stewart hopes to open the space to help foster the creative community of Koreans and non-Koreans living in Seoul.
He is now looking for donations to help pay for key money deposit, renovation costs and to purchase artistic equipment such as easels, tables and projector equipment.
“I want to make a space for the creative community in Seoul ― the sort of space that English speakers can feel comfortable going to,” said Stewart, who has held about 20 exhibitions in Korea since coming here in 2003.
Mike Stewart holds up a sketch during one of his art classes at his existing Seoul studio. (Jankura Artspace)
“I run classes now out of my own studio space but it is not quite big enough and the location is not convenient for students,” he said of his current setup in Cheongnyangni, where he teaches English-language fine arts courses, mostly to exchange students attending Seoul universities or English teachers.
He said that other art courses in Seoul were often difficult for foreigners to find out about, and could pose language barriers when tuition was only in Korean.
Stewart said there was little mixing between Korean and expat artists’ circles here, creating the need for an English-language space.
“It’s difficult ― there are language barriers and cultural barriers at the moment between Korean and Western artists. It can be difficult to get involved and connected. That is why we have been creating a foreign artists’ community over the past few years,” he added.
“There seems to be a generation gap between the foreign and the Korean artists. The culture of Korean artists can form a bit of an old boys club ― it is a bit hard for Western artists to be included.
“I hope that this space will give back to the community and becomes a place where people can come and set up their own workshops and have events,” he added.
The venue could also be used for cultural lectures as well as providing rehearsal space for performing arts groups.
He said the studio, to be named Jankura after his high school art teacher, had already garnered a lot of interest.
“I am constantly asked about where studio spaces are available so it seems to be a thing that is needed. Six people have expressed an interest in renting a studio already.”
And Korea-based illustrator Leroy Kucia endorsed the project, saying: “This program will provide an excellent opportunity for both Korean and Western artists to collaborate on ideas and share their creative techniques. Working together on art projects will help redefine how we observe and create art, and ultimately foster a good International relationship within the Seoul artist community.”
Potter Kimberly Paul, who also plans to donate to the project, praised Stewart’s efforts to create an expat artistic community in Korea: “Those of us with artistic propensities living in Korea are craving an opportunity to express ourselves and meet likeminded people.”
Stewart has set a target of $7,000 and is selling T-shirts and giving away prints to generous donors to help reach his goal.
For more information go to: www.mstewartprintmaker.com/jankura.htm.
By Kirsty Taylor (firstname.lastname@example.org