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Fine Arts Professor Takes Off To Travel

By Melanie Spina
Assistant A&E Editor

Seung Lee, Art Professor and Director of Fine Arts and Graduate Studies at LIU Post, will be on sabbatical for this school year. The professor, who has been working at Post for 26 years now, felt that as he traveled to different countries, it was getting harder and harder to supply his paintings to museums and/or art galleries around the world. “I decided to take a year off to organize and spend more time producing my own work and to do some more research,” Lee said.

Seung Lee, Art Professor and Director of Fine Arts and Graduate Studies at LIU Post. Photo: Melanie Spina
Seung Lee, Art Professor and Director of Fine Arts and Graduate Studies at LIU Post. Photo: Melanie Spina

Professor Lee has always been fascinated with traveling; therefore, he plans to do a lot of it during this time off. In fact, he already has planned out some of the countries he will be visiting, “In November I will be participating in an MFA Program Conference in Florence, Italy,” Lee said. “Following that, in December I will be travelling to China to give a lecture at Shenzhen University. Next year, in March, I will be participating in the Hong Kong Art Fair.”

As not only an artist, but also as a teacher, Lee believes that it’s very important to travel. Because of this, he plans on incorporating what he learns during his travels into the classroom once he comes back. “Recently I’ve been travelling a lot to China, because as you can notice on our campus, there is a lot of Chinese exchange students,” Lee said. “It is very important for me to know their culture so I can help them with their art, because I want to make sure I give them the right information for them to go back to China and become good talented artists. It’s kind of my responsibility in a way.”

During this sabbatical, Professor Lee has set a lot of goals for himself, but his main goal is to create a lot of new artwork. “Hopefully I will be able to show a lot of new work that I will be creating during my sabbatical,” Lee said. “You need a lot of time to produce new work so what I used to do was in a way recycle my work to different galleries and museums. This time will give me a chance to create new work, so I am very excited.”

This past summer Professor Lee took part on a faculty lead study abroad, leading a trip to South Korea, with 12 students, to teach an art course. Candice Licalzi, who graduated from Post with BFA and is now currently in her second year of her MFA at Post, was one of the students that went on the trip. “His trip to Korea was the first trip I’ve ever been on with professor Lee and the experience was like no other study abroad program I’ve ever been on before,” said Licalzi. “We as a group were very fortunate to show our artwork overseas at four different universities, which is something that many artists take years to achieve but that is just scratching the surface.”

Lee believes that it’s really important to “learn about different cultures as young artists, not only to express themselves, but to understand things internationally and globally.” Lee explains the market has grown out of New York. “Before it used to be that if you made it in New York you made it everywhere but that’s not the case anymore, they really need to understand global market.”

Susan Kelly, who graduated with a degree in Fine Arts and is currently in the MFA program, highly recommends any student to take a class with Professor Lee. “Even if it’s just one painting or drawing class, you should take it,” she said. “He’s a genuine person- he’ll treat you like a person, not just a student. He’ll actually care about you.”

Many students will miss Professor Lee while he is on his sabbatical. Licalzi, who has known the professor for five years, claims that because of his helpfulness and kind spirit during her young high school years, she decided to study fine arts at LIU Post. “Just the fact that when he announced he was taking sabbatical- many students got upset with him,” said Kelly. “They were upset that he wouldn’t be around for them for an entire year, that he wouldn’t be teaching them- and wouldn’t be able to attend their senior art shows. That should show how much he means to the students.”

Although he’ll be missed, Licalzi has very positive thoughts on Lee’s sabbatical. “I believe it’s every art educators right to have the time to create and distribute their work,” said Licalzi. “I still keep in contact with Seung constantly and he sends me photos of art fairs or exhibitions he’s participating in that posses works similar to my style and helps encourage the progression of my work.”

Sofie Hoff, who graduated in January 2015 with a BFA in Mixed Studio Art and is currently doing her M.A. in clinical art therapy and mental health counseling at Post, believes that it’s important for Professors to take a sabbatical. “I do believe it enriches their teaching when they are serious about their own work,” she said. “I think everyone could benefit from taking some time off every now and then to recharge and
to gather some new insights and inspiration, but I think it is especially important as an artists in order to stay grounded and relevant.”

Professor Lee’s advice to young artist is to be very open and flexible. “It’s a very exciting time we are in, because there are endless possibilities,” Lee said. “In one sense it’s very exciting but in another sense it’s very confusing” he added with a chuckle.

During Lee’s sabbatical, Professor of Fine Arts, Neill Slaughter, will be covering his director position and a new part-time faculty member, Professor Wagner, will cover most of Lee’s classes.

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