Archive for the ‘art’ Category


Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

It’s been a while since my last post here, because I was on vacation. I visited Madrid, Lisbon, and Porto.  It was incredible!  Ths vacation was my first time visiting Europe outside of France, and I really enjoyed discovering new places and noticing the differences between each country.  I think Americans tend to lump Europe (or at least Western Europe) together as one country, but in reality each country is as unique as the states in America.  One wouldn’t say that New Hampshire, Virginia, and Texas are all the same… Each country has its own language, its own traditions, its own history, etc.  Even within Portugal, there were regional differences between Lisbon and Porto.  

In Madrid, I visited two very famous museums: Prado and Reina Sofia.  Prado Museum is the home of many famous paintings and Spanish artists.  I saw the works of El Greco, Velázquez, Goya, Raphael, Bosch, Van der Weyden, Picasso, and many others.  I took an Art History II class sophomore year, and I couldn’t believe I was seeing in person so many of the paintings I had studied!  I also got to see La Guernica, one of Picasso’s most famous works and an important part of Spain’s history.

Reina Sofia has more rotating exhibits. I saw an exhibit of modern art and sculpture called Metonymy by Cristina Iglesias.  

Another staple of Madrid: TAPAS.  It’s a menu of small appetizer-sized plates that cost 3-4 euro each; you order a bunch and share them, just to taste.  Many of the tapas items are something bizarre and gourmet, often atop a cracker: for example, duck confit with onions, foie gras and apples, smoked salmon, squid with ink sauce, etc.  I really ejoyed the atmosphere of these tapas dinners, and every plate was something weird and exciting.  Of course, when in Spain, we ordered everything with wine or sangria. 

I have many more experiences and observations to share, but I don’t want to make this post too long.  I will revisit the other cities later!

Exposition d’Art Contemporain!

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

Saturday, my language partner and her mother invited me to a convemporary art exhibit. It was so cool! The bulding is a renovated cigarette factory, so it has a very open, industrial feel. The exhibit is part of Marseille 2013, a series of cultural events happening in and around the city. The exhibit, Ici, Ailleurs, (meaning Here, Elsewhere) showcased the works of many artists— most of whom were born in the Mediterranean region— examining themes such as journey, displacement, exhile, immigration, citizenship, identity, and gender. Some of my favorite pieces were:

A series of large inkjet photographs playing with light and dark that depicted the lonliness and otherness felt by many Algerian immigrants, haunted by their country’s history with France.

A gigantic (easily 8 ft tall) bronze and leather chastity belt protesting the situation of women in Egypt.

Furniture from a courtroom that was cut diagonally and spread in a line. The artist wanted to portray how law can divide us and question whether we are truly equal under the law.

Home-like videos from a wedding in Algeria(?), focusing on the greeting line, and slowed way down to create a very solemn atmosphere.

A life-size figure of the pregnant Virgin Mary, draped in a cloak of dried pig intestines. The artist wanted to create a more raw and haunting representation of the mother of Jesus, completely distorting the typical images of beauty and sweetness associated with her.

A video project where a woman put children in different environments without scripts and documented how that affected their behavoir and speech.

A very moving silent film depicting the complexities of desire between homosexual men. 

Here is a link to photos of the exhibit on Flickr

Centre Pompidou

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

After class, we went to the Centre Pompidou, which is a modern art museum and library.  Now I have to admit this: I’m not into contemporary art.  Sometimes I am able to appreciate the ingenuity or the skills required to make it, but a lot of the times I just think “what??”  Perhaps I’m just not able to think abstractly enough or do not know enough about the movement (or both).

From a museum studies aspect though, I thought that the sensors were a good technique to ensure that people did not get too close or touch the paintings.  The sound that went off when you crossed the line made sure you knew that you were doing something you were not supposed to do and caused everyone to look at you-and public attention works really well at preventing people.

However, I now have a favorite contemporary artist: DARIA!  She got a hold of my camera and took a lot of photos.

the tired artist



Friday, May 11th, 2012

I feel like I always blog about 2.5, and with good reason, because there’s so much ripe comedic material to choose from. However, today’s post isn’t going to be about something funny that happened in class, it’s going to be about one of my favorite students – Hongdae.

Now Hongdae isn’t actually his name, it’s just what I’m choosing to call him as it’s actually somewhat similar to his name and because whenever I think of Hongdae, I’m reminded of him.  Hongdae is most famously known among the native English teaching community as a partying, clubbing, and live music district, but it’s also named after Hongik University (University in Korean is 대학교/dehakgyo, so HongDe) which is the most famous arts school in Korea. Why does this university remind me of my student? I’ll get to that in a second.

Hongdae (the student) is every teacher’s dream. He’s bright, pays attention, and is funny without being disruptive. He helps control the class, and helps translate for other students when they need help but doesn’t yell out all the answers. He’s a good participant during games, and pays attention during the more boring parts of class. He’s just an all around sweet kid, in a class full of (also sweet) crazies.

A few weeks ago after I finished teaching class 2.5 I left the second grade building and paused on the steps. I saw Hongdae come out after me, but decided not to call out to him, because it was his break time and I didn’t want to force him to come talk to me. He ended up calling out my name anyway. I asked him what his plans were for that weekend, and he said “drawing.” Intrigued, I asked if art was his hobby, and he replied that his dream was to be an artist. I asked if he wanted to go to art school, and he told me that he wanted to go to Hongik, and asked if I knew it. When I replied that I did know Hongdae and that it was a very famous art school, he beamed.
“Do you have any of your drawings with you? I’d love to see them.”
He blushed. “Ah no, teacher, not now. But maybe later?”
“Okay, I want to see them later. Promise me.” And we promised.

Fast forward to today. I finished teaching class 2.5, hung around to chat with some of the boys, then on my way out I ran into Hongdae on the steps again.
“Bye, teacher. Have a good week.”
“Thanks! Ah! Your drawings, how are they going?”
“Good! I… have them with me now, if you want to see them?”

I then followed him back inside class 2.5′s homeroom, to the confusion of all the students there, and he grabbed a tube from his cabinet and from it pulled out his drawings and started to explain them in English, and my jaw just dropped. The first (and my favorite) piece had been divided into four parts and each part had a BEAUTIFUL image of a water drop, hitting the water’s surface, done in varying shades of blue. The second piece was of a cat, about to attack a ball of yarn, and the third was a drawing of different types of cracked glass.

Hongdae is smart. He was in one of my advanced first grade classes last year, which makes him one of the top students (at least, in terms of English) in second grade. The fact that he’s at Changpyeong means that he’s smart, period. He could probably get into any number of prestigious academic programs at most universities, but I’ve never seen him look happier or more proud than when he was showing me his drawings.

(To help me remember students' names, I had students write their names on white boards and then I took pictures. This remains one of my favorite pictures, because everytime I got ready to take a picture, these two students would bust out laughing, so I finally just took the picture mid-laugh. Hongdae's the one on the right, and I erased the students' names for privacy reasons).

But on a much more positive note…

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

Yesterday my classes weren’t all that great, but a lot of great stuff happened outside of class. Here’s all that good stuff, in random order.

I met with the two girls who wanted to have lunchtime conversation practice, and it went much better than anticipated. I’m always a bit wary of small group conversations because many times students are pressured into doing it by their parents or other teachers and don’t actually want to be there, and thus aren’t motivated to speak, so you end up asking a lot of leading questions to fill the awkward silence which gets really tiresome. These girls came prepared with not only a topic that they had obviously thought about (Korean versus American schools) but also lemonade and so we chatted for twenty minutes about their and my high school experiences while sipping our beverages. I had so much fun talking to them that I was surprised when the bell rang. Later in the day they came and gave me a tomato, because one of the girls’ father is a tomato farmer in Damyang.

As I was leaving school I ran into multiple groups of three or four first grade boys who were carrying large paintings across school grounds and across the street. Immediately upon seeing me they start screaming “PODOSKYYYYYY PODOSKYYYY HELP ME THIS IS HEAVY” to which I of course reply “Sorry. Going home. Have fun. You are strong.” If the second grade boys like to call me “Emily Photo-ski” then I think my new nickname given to me from the first grade boys is “Podoski,” because they think that my name sounds like Podolski, who is a famous soccer player.

Boys are weird.

After school I went to a coffee shop called Te Amo and worked on Korean for about two hours. I’ve grown kind of disillusioned with textbooks because all textbooks have such varied curricula that I end up learning grammar forms that are considered beginner/intermediate by one book’s standard, but not learning grammar forms  that are considered super basic by another book but hasn’t been introduced in my book yet. Also I’m so sick of hearing about Linda Taylor, and Michael, and Natasha, and Tien, and all the stupid characters that they insist on introducing to you in the books. “Natasha is married to a Korean man and likes to cook Kimchijjigae-” GUESS WHAT EWHA KOREAN LANGUAGE PROGRAM –  NATASHA IS NOT REAL AND NO ONE CARES ABOUT HER COOKING PREFERENCES.


So instead I borrowed a book from Changpyeong’s library called 국경 없는 마을 (The village without borders) which is a book written in 1st person narrative from the perspective of South East Asian workers and their children who live in Korea. Not only is it much more interesting than a textbook, but I’m introduced to a lot of new vocabulary and grammar and I can actually see how it’s used in a real sentence, rather than in a “dumbed-down-for-foreigners-learning-Korean” sentence. This isn’t to say that all textbooks are bad, or that simplifying sentences for second-language learners is a bad way to go, it’s just that I feel that I’ve hit a rut with my Korean reading and writing skills so it might be time to try a different approach. This book is especially interesting because as I live in a rural area, there are quite a few immigrants in my town, and in Damyang-eup (about thirty minutes away) there’s an immigrant center just like the one I’m reading about. It’s doubly interesting when you consider that this book is written in Korean and there’s no English translation, so by translating this myself, I get to access a resource that would have been completely inaccessible to me a year and a half ago.

I’ve also been writing in my Korean diary, and today I’m going to meet my language partner and she’ll hopefully check it. It’s always so humbling trying to write down your thoughts in another language. My most recent entry goes something like this:

“Usually I write with a pencil because I write many wrong things but today while going to Gwangju I forgot all of my pens at school so I must write with a red pen. I do not like writing with a red pen. When I write with a red pen, I feel like a bad student. Also now while I am studying at a coffee shop my cell phone battery ran out so I cannot use the dictionary. It is very difficult. In Korea if you write a person’s name in red it is bad, right? In America, any color is okay however I still don’t like red pens.”

I feel like I’m back in elementary school. Ah well, as long as you work a little everyday, right?

However I’ve saved the best for last – so to preface this story, I should explain that in Korean schools there are no janitors. All of the students are assigned a location and a job (for example, second grade building staircase – sweeper) and they have to clean that area during a designated cleaning time, which at our school is for twenty minutes after 6th period everyday. I don’t like to leave school until after cleaning time, so I’m normally awkwardly sitting at my desk alone (all the other teachers are supervising cleaning crews) when the teachers’ office cleaning crew comes by to sweep and mop under my desk. The current mopper is scared of me, perhaps, because she refuses to talk to me, but the sweeper is an adorably sprightly second grade girl who everyday skips over to my desk (she literally skips) and asks if I can move so she can sweep under it.

This girl, MW, asked for my email address last week so that she could practice her English, but then the next day told me that she’d have to wait until the weekend to email me because she lives in the school dormitory. I told her that if she wanted she could do that, or she could hand-write me notes and I would correct them and write them back. The next day she gave me TWO pieces of paper – the original note (with drawings and multiple colors) and a photocopied one that I could edit and give back to her. The entire note was just charming, but this one section just put it over the top:

“I like to talk with others, but this school makes me study hard.  so I have to study every time.
In meanwhile, I had a dream. It is math teacher in middle school :) . Although math is often hard it makes me happy.
Do you want to know reason?
Umm, math’s range is very wide. So I’m happy when I learn new things.
also, I like teaching my friends. So, I have a hope. I grow up like you, because teacher’s class is very fun! (thanks teacher)”

Thank you MW. I hope you don’t think my similes and metaphors lesson this week is too boring.