By Paola Guzman
Woori, a renowned bank in Korea, chose art professor Seung Lee, director of the fine arts program and graduate studies, to display his artwork in their 2018 calendar.
In 2011, the Korean Art Association named Lee Korea’s best international artist of the year. This led to him exhibiting at art shows around the world, including in Korea, Japan, China, Italy, and France. Lee has had almost 30 solo shows and over 200 group shows.
Lee arrived in the United States from South Korea when he was 15 years old. His father passed away when he was five, and his mother could not find work in South Korea. As the youngest, Lee could not do much to help their situation. After his aunt married an American sergeant stationed in Korea, his family was able to move to the United States, and without knowing any English, Lee was enrolled in an American high school. “Because I could not communicate verbally, I found myself drawing,” Lee said. “Unfortunate situations made me get to the place I am today.”
Lee recalled his high school teacher collecting all of his artwork and applying to college for him. He could not have done so on his own because he had no one to help him through the process. “This is why I take teaching seriously,” Lee said. His teacher impacted him in a way he didn’t realize at the time. Lee studied at Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, MD.
For the last six to seven years, Lee has used trees as his inspiration for his art work. “I use trees to symbolize certain human beings,” Lee said. He wants to have nature represent his feelings and opinions without forcing them on his audience. “A tree can represent someone in a particular light, but the audience has the ultimate decision to either see his symbolism or just enjoy the tree,” Lee said.
In addition to his exhibitions, Lee enjoys judging art shows and competitions. He has judged for shows including Long Island Museum in Stony Brook, New York; Open Studio by Art Space in Connecticut; Long Island Art League; and the National Endowment for Art. Lee said judging helps him with his teaching. Because he sees various new styles and artwork and immediately talks about it in his classes, he is able to expose his students to recent artwork.
Lee teaches “Drawing and Painting,” to students of all years and leads a faculty-led study abroad course called “Art and Culture of Korea,” to Korea every two years. During his last trip in May 2017, he took ten students for two weeks. They visited historical sites in South Korea and five universities, and his students had the opportunity to exhibit their artwork with Korean students. “It was a fun and real exchange,” Lee said. If there is enough demand for the course, it may run every year.
Lee has been at Post for 28 years and feels grateful for his teaching position. “I just wish that art is more appreciated,” Lee said. “Our society doesn’t realize that art is what is going to leave our legacy behind as humans.”
To see Lee’s artwork visit: leeseung.com