Like a Happy Surfer Enjoying the Waves of Arts

“I want to continue doing meaningful research and practice that goes back and forth between the actual field and work even when I become a grandmother, and I want to form a sense of sustainability in which work and education are closely intertwined.”

- Kyung-mi Jung

Contemporary arts open up new senses to us, deliver the joy of immersing in arts, and enable us to feel transgenerational empathy.

Kyung-mi Jung, who practices arts and education using the body in collaboration with various artists, hopes for children to experience being immersed in contemporary arts and to be able to create their own critical perspectives and interpretations within arts. Through this interview, we got to hear the thoughts of Kyung-mi Jung on 'critical arts education', as she dreams of enjoying arts education like a surfer enjoying the waves while keeping his/her own balance.

Kyung-mi Jung, No.34 Korea Traditional Treasure - Gangryeong Talchum Research Institute Lion Dance performance, 2020

Stillcut/ ⓒKyung-mi Jung

Q. Please introduce yourself.

Hello, I am Kyung-mi Jung.

I am a planner who connects and speculates the various things that surround us based on the body, and I am also a performer who performed the No.34 Korea Traditional Treasure Gangryeong Talchum*.

*Gangryeong Talchum: Masked dance-drama from Gangnyeong, Hwanghae-do Province.

Q. Please briefly tell us about the project you are currently interested in.

The project I am currently interested in is the critical arts education, Critic Surfer project. Critic Surfer is a name I thought of as I was imagining a surfer enjoying the waves of arts while keeping one’s own balance. I am currently researching and implementing a curriculum that allows young people to build their own thoughts and perspectives based on contemporary arts.

Q. What was the first work of yours that you can refer to as ‘arts education’ and what motivated you to start it?

My first project was a ballet series called Komjil Komjil produced for early childhood arts education. The Komjil Komjil ballet series is an arts education for toddlers that has been held for three years since 2017 and these three years have been very meaningful to me. I started ballet from a very young age and majored in ballet in college, and I felt a sense of distance and discomfort in modern education.

More specifically, within the technical education and the hierarchical system, I began to question myself, what type of arts I was practicing. And finally, I realized that the dancing should be fun and free. In that respect, the Komjil Komjil ballet series was an opportunity to redefine ballet from my point of view and look at the ballet with new eyes from an arts education perspective.

Looking back, it was a time for me to break away from old, traditional educational methods and radically reform myself. I also had so much fun with the children at that time that my past struggles and wounds naturally healed.

Kyung-mi Jung, Critic Surfer project, 2021

Stillcut/ ⓒKyung-mi Jung


Q. How are you balancing your identity as an artist and your role as a teaching artist? How do the two influence each other?

I enjoy appreciating all kinds of arts, whether visual art, movie, dance, or play, and looking into what chemical reactions occur in my emotions and body. Critical arts education, which I am currently implementing, aims to foster critical thinking, by feeling and digesting all unfamiliar senses with the body when encountering arts. I think my attempts as an artist and my attempts as an educator are organically intertwined and eventually expand as they influence one another. And these two roles make me have a common attitude, as they allow me to do education and work as if I were adventuring a path that I had never gone through.

Q. Is there any memorable episode or special bond with the participants during the arts education activities?

I remember when I participated as the main instructor in the program, Kekekiki, We Live as Art, of Kumdarak Saturday Cultural School* in 2021. It was a session in which we made an installation based on the bodily senses we felt in the garden with a pond. As I saw 12 children in my class immersed in themselves in their own ways, I thought, I wish time would stop like this. That moment was so precious and free. It was almost like a time of resonance.

*Kumdarak Saturday Cultural School: an out-of-school arts and culture education program hosted by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and organized by the Korea Arts & Culture Education Service.

Q. What motivates you to continue working as a TA? What are the charms of being a TA?

I love the moment when children fall into arts and become equal. It's nice to be there watching the children become deeply immersed in their own ways. I want children to truly feel their existence and feel happy through such experiences. I think I am continuing to do this because those moments are so fun.

Kumdarak Saturday Cultural School’s Weekend Art Campus program, Kekekiki, We Live by Art

Stillcut/ ⓒKACES

Q. In terms of interaction and communication, the life of an artist/teaching artist seems to be based on one’s personal activities. But why do we need to interact with others?

I think it is time to think of a new way of solidarity. More than anyone else, people who work in the field of arts should be able to present directions to our society. In my case, I am constantly searching for new colleagues and trying to achieve sustainability by seeking various ways to work with others through critical arts education. When interacting with colleagues, I realize that my issues are not only issues of my own. And the more I interact with others, more opportunities open up and more joy is given.

Q. What is your biggest concern while taking this career path?

I want to continue doing meaningful research and practice that goes back and forth between the actual field and work even when I become a grandmother, and I want to form a sense of sustainability in which work and education are closely intertwined.

My concern is the uncertainty of the public domain, as it is dependent on government policies and projects. In that respect, I hope that the public domain will be more stable and that all artists, researchers, mediators, and the audience can fully enjoy arts from their respective standpoints.

Kyung-mi Jung

Kyung-mi Jung was born in Seoul and majored in dance. Based on her great interest in the body, she connects the various things that surround one’s body and expands this into the social realm. She is also a performer who performed the No.34 Korea Traditional Treasure Gangryeong Talchum. In the arts education field, she enjoys project based arts education with children. These days, she is researching and implementing critical arts education that allows young people to come up with their own thoughts and perspectives based on contemporary arts.


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