Discovering Questions with Neighbors through Arts 

“Enabling one to come up with one’s own question within daily life, is the reason I teach.”

- Gye-Won Lee

When and where do we encounter arts? Altus, a group of arts education practitioners, focuses on arts not in a particular time and place but on the arts that we encounter in our daily lives and the questions we discover through arts on a daily basis.

Altus creates artistic places all over Seongnam by transforming a closed local store into a space where the locals can encounter arts, by setting artistic devices where people go to take a stroll, and by bringing arts to those who have a hard time finding it in their daily lives. In such places, Altus’ neighbors feel that their lives have awakened and find the questions they have once forgotten. Let's hear the story of Gye-Won Lee, who weaves daily life, awakening moments, and a sense of place within the local area.

Gye-Won Lee, a member of Altus

Photo/ ⓒKACES

Q. Please introduce yourself.

Hello, I am Gye-Won Lee, a member of an arts group called Altus. I work with visual artists and writers. I often think about the boundaries between daily life and arts here in Seongnam, and I am engaged in a variety of activities ranging from individual arts projects to socially engaged arts education and research.

Altus, Imae Art Road, 2017

Photo/ ⓒ Altus

Q. What is your goal in arts education?

What Altus considers important in education is whether it is an education that allows participants to come up with their own questions in their daily lives. A question is something that arises when you are curious about something and start to observe it. So I hope that artistic factors will be accompanied/ in the process of one discovering personal taste and forming curiosity when encountering new things. Therefore, what Altus considers important in education is whether it is an education that allows participants to come up with their own questions in their daily lives

Altus, Tancheon project: A strange walk, 2019

Photo/ ⓒ Altus

Q. What is the meaning of ‘sense of place’ in your arts education?

I believe a sense of place is the moment in touch with everyday life when it comes to arts education. These days, our lives seem to feel separated from our everyday lives, knowingly or unknowingly, but I believe arts education creates a moment where the real space and one’s daily life meet. Only when we take a pause in our daily spaces to look around and awaken ourselves, are we able to finally see the things we couldn’t see before. I think this is an important aspect of arts education.

Altus has been working on site-specific projects for nearly 10 years, centering on Tancheon, Seongnam, an everyday place to take a walk. Altus continues the project in Tancheon because it believes encountering arts in such spaces could become a point where an individual can look back on one’s daily life. This is how we use a ‘sense of place’ in our work.

Q. How do you balance yourself as an artist and a teaching artist?

My activities as an artist and a teaching artist seem to be becoming more and more similar. The boundary between the two is blurry. I think I tend to focus more on myself when I work as an artist. What matters is how well I express the world as I picture it to be. When I work as a teaching artist, I feel more responsible. It's quite intimidating knowing that what I say or do may influence someone else. So I tend to be more cautious about how my words and actions will be perceived.

Altus, Imae Art Road, 2017

Photo/ ⓒ Altus

Q. The life of a teaching artist seems to be based on individual activities. But why do we still need to interact with colleagues?

Interaction and encounters are areas that Altus cares a lot about. It's solidarity. And we value loose solidarity. Socially engaged activities and arts education are conducted in order to communicate with others and broaden our horizons. But if we stop interacting with others, we will become more isolated and stop reflecting on ourselves. I believe the interaction with other arts education practitioners is an important factor for us to see if Altus is going in a positive direction.

Q. Are there any fields you are interested in for the future?

In 2021, Altus conducted research on youth arts education as part of Multi-Arts and Culture Education Facing Society. I think Altus should pay the most attention to youth education in the future. I want to work with young people, the prospective citizens, in order to bring a change to this society.

Gye-Won Lee

Gye-Won Lee majored in painting and arts history. She is an artist who is interested in the boundaries between the everyday lives and the non-everyday lives and contemplates arts within urban life. Currently she runs a group called Altus in the regional area, and studies socially engaged arts and arts education with fellow artists.


Altus website:

According to above KOGL, user can use public works freely and without fee when user complies with the terms provided as follows. However, it is prohibited to use public works for commercial purpose, or to create secondary works by changing or modifying it.