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Interview with Professor Hasoon Shin, Recipient of the 2020 Excellence in Teaching Award

Dec 17, 2020

Professor Hasoon Shin (Department of Oriental Painting, College of Fine Arts) was one of ten recipients of the 2020 SNU Excellence in Teaching Award. He was recognized for his educational philosophy of exploring traditional and modern aesthetics and cultivating the ability to expand it to an international perspective. Professor Shin has facilitated an international experience for his master’s and doctorate students through organizing the international exchange exhibition “Samguk G” since 2008. He also runs the “Dream Key Art School,” a program co-sponsored by SNU and the Seoul Metropolitan Government providing art education to low-income students.

To commemorate his achievement, the English Editors team reached out to him to learn more about his research and teaching philosophy. The following is an edited transcript of the interview.

Professor Hasoon Shin (Department of Oriental Painting, College of Fine Arts), Recipient of the 2020 Excellence in Teaching Award
Professor Hasoon Shin (Department of Oriental Painting, College of Fine Arts), Recipient of the 2020 Excellence in Teaching Award

Our biggest congratulations for winning this year’s Excellence in Teaching Award. Could you share how you felt upon receiving it?

Above all, I would like to express my deepest gratitude to my students. I am embarrassed to have received such an honorable award over so many professors who devote their time to education with such passion. It would have been difficult to be where I am today without the endless support of my family and those around me who have lent their support along the way. Moving forward, I plan to devote myself to my research, and pave the way so that young academics who follow have the best chance to succeed.

Please introduce the classes you are currently in charge of, and any memorable classes that you have conducted in the past.

Currently, I am the instructor of two courses, A Study of Ink Wash Painting and a Research Studio class. In my classes, I focus on exploring our traditional art and modern aesthetics and expanding these to cultivate an international aesthetic consciousness. I encourage my students to train an international eye on the basis of their own individual perspectives, and try to motivate them to create works in their own unique voice.

My most memorable class was a foundational course I taught in which students from other majors were able to explore the properties of the brush and ink paper based on a foundational understanding of ink wash painting. I complimented a student because I liked the color expression of their ink and the quality of their lines, and they responded in a very shy and awkward manner -- it had never occurred to them that they had artistic ability. We all have ways of expressing our artistic and aesthetic sensibilities, often without even knowing it. This should be encouraged more.

I heard that you have led the international exchange of master’s and doctorate students through the “Samguk [‘Three Countries’] G” exhibition since 2008. What is your reason for making a special effort to facilitate educational activities at the international level?

The “three countries” are Korea, China and Japan, while the ‘G’ stands for both “Global” and “Germany.” I felt that what our students desperately needed was a sense of international curiosity. The exhibition was a valuable opportunity for students to ask themselves, “what do young artists in other countries think about and what are our differences? Which qualities do we need to maintain and which should we improve on?” Through seeing international participants’ interpretations of our modern aesthetics based on our traditions, as well as reflecting on how and in what ways we accept their aesthetic concepts, students were eventually able to add to their own aesthetic vision.

What was your motivation in starting the Dream Key Art School?

With the help of those around me, I started the program in hopes to create a space to dream for children who do not have easy access to art education. It was made possible by master’s and doctorate students generously donating their time. The innocent world that children create through their art is a precious sensibility that we adults should remember.

What do you think is the charm of Oriental painting? How would you introduce the field to a non-specialist?

Oriental painting is our art. There are many talented artists in the field who are constantly exploring and building their artistic visions based on the study of traditional art, such that Korean art can be the center of our art world.

We do not wish to simply remain within the tradition, but rather we actively seek to cultivate a modern aesthetic sense and expand our activities, not only in the art world but also in various other areas of Korean society.

I imagine conducting College of Art classes in the COVID era to be even more challenging in comparison to other disciplines. How have classes changed?

Classes have mostly been conducted in the form of online seminars. While we are limited by the images we can share through an online medium, it has created a new platform for a more robust discussion on the direction of the class and the direction of the work that students want to do. We meet in person once or twice a semester, so that I have a chance to see the students’ works more closely. It also provides an opportunity for students to explain any details that cannot be conveyed online, and to receive feedback from others.

What are your future plans as an artist and educator?

I plan on dedicating myself to creating more art, and finding ways to express my visual consciousness in new ways. I will also continue to work hard in promoting and expanding the base of the field.

Do you have any words of advice for our students?

The world deals us many hardships throughout our lives. I know that our SNU students have already endured many hardships to be here with us today. I hope you are able to meet future hardships with an equally wise, creative, and confident attitude. Most of all, my hope is that students are able to lead lives they will be proud to look back on in the future.

Written by Minju Kim, SNU English Editor,
Reviewed by Professor Travis Smith, Department of Asian Languages and Civilizations,