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Director of Galleries and Outreach Sso-Rha Kang strives to bring a new approach on how students on campus view local art and the art of radical thinking. She specifically intends to bring to light artists from Cincinnati and local areas that give students an immersive experience that bridges the gap between on campus art work and work from beyond.
Diverse perspectives, in the use of different media and cultural backgrounds, can bring something new to campus that has not been seen much before. Kang explained that there have primarily been a lot of student and faculty shows on campus and she would like students to experience external perspectives as well.
“Art itself is very subversive, so it is really important to be up to date on new trends that are happening, but also to expose students to more challenging ideas. To do that, [we need to] bring in people that are not specifically tied to NKU,” Kang said.
Kang added that there is a lot of opportunity for growth at NKU.
She compares NKU to a blank canvas, where her playing field is expansive and change can be made.
She has big goals for not only the students here, but the viewers of the art showcased in the galleries as well.
“I am trying to create more diverse programming, more radical perspectives and challenging ideas should be brought to NKU. I think that is really important to art students, because art is about pushing the boundaries; it’s about being subversive, it’s about challenging whatever viewer comes to the work of art to rethink how they experience or move through the world. I would like to bring that to the shows we have here,” Kang said.
Matthew Albritton, director of School of the Arts, discussed what stood out to him most about Kang during that time.
“She was very clear about the mission of a gallery in 2021 and presented some new possibilities for collaborating across the river and throughout the region. She spoke very passionately about diversity and inclusiveness,” Albritton said.
Albritton expresses that diversity in art is important, as we ourselves are a diverse society where all voices are valid and deserve to be expressed, even if they are controversial. An art gallery is a venue for different voices and perspectives on and off campus.
Many students have been in contact with Kang for their upcoming senior exhibitions that will be featured starting on Nov. 18. This senior exhibition will be Kang’s first in-person senior exhibition at NKU and the first senior exhibition on campus after the COVID-19 pandemic. NKU has an average of 10 exhibitions a year, the fall and spring senior exhibitions being two of them.
Maddy Kunkel, senior BFA student and worker in the visual arts department, described ways she believes that Kang will help improve the gallery.
“She will absolutely be an asset to NKU. I think she has a lot of forward thinking ideas and really wants to bring more people to the gallery through social media and the community. I also think her drive for organization and flow will bring more structure to how the galleries function,” Kunkel said.
These forward thinking ideas that Kunkel noted include transforming the gallery space into something that is better for everyone involved, especially the students and making it easier to assemble and take down shows.
Kunkel will have her work displayed in the upcoming senior exhibition alongside a number of other visual communication design and fine arts students. She notes that she and Kang have worked together on the exhibition.
With this senior exhibition, Kang has worked to make sure to capture each student’s vision and why it is so important she does so.
“This is their capstone project, which means that, to each student, this is a culmination of all their years at school. It is incredibly important to them,” Kang said.
This exhibition will showcase art in the forms of drawing, sculpture, photography and graphic design from Visual Communication Design and Fine Arts students. Typically, the fall senior exhibition consists of a larger number of VCD students, while the spring one mostly focuses on studio arts. The VCD pieces consist of aspects in branding, environmental and experiential design.
Kang believes there is a balance to be had between art showcased from students and art from outside of NKU. With this, she hopes to take away the stereotypes of what art is perceived to be.
“I would like to bring in shows that really surprise students, really influence them and let them know the potential of what art can be,” Kang said.