Idyllwild Arts Academy senior Dayeon Han, 19, took first place in the two-dimensional art category at the annual Los Angeles Music Center Spotlight Awards. At the Saturday, April 26, ceremony in Los Angeles, Han’s painting, “Baby,” earned her a $5,000 scholarship that she will use to attend Rhode Island School of Design.
Han was a semi-finalist in the same category last year. She is the only IA finalist this year.
A native of Korea, Han came to IAA as a freshman and studied ceramics, drawing, painting, photography, graphics and sculpture. She speaks quietly and chooses her words carefully when discussing her career choices and her artistic motivations.
Han said that when she came to Idyllwild Arts she had no clear idea of what aspect of art she would pursue. She had not known from an early age that she would choose fine art as a career. She also noted that by deciding to study fine art, she was charting a course different from most Korean students and certainly other than what her parents and family had expected and would have preferred.
“In Korea people don’t really understand a decision to study art,” she said, explaining that she was the only one in her family and among her friends to have made this choice. “For the first time, I wanted to do something just for me, not to please others.”
Han has four pieces currently on display at IA’s Parks Exhibition Center that demonstrate her artistic versatility — two ceramic works, a self-portrait painting and a collage. Her award winning “Baby” was featured at a recent Palm Desert exhibition of IAA student work at the Melissa Morgan Fine Art Gallery on El Paseo.
“Baby,” on first viewing, is an arresting piece and a bit disturbing, and that was specifically Han’s intention in painting it. Han discussed her goal, which interestingly enough, comes from her opinion of what drives users to the social networking site Facebook.
Han believes Facebook demonstrates the need by members to get attention from others — a self-involved need to have repetitive public moments in which the user is the center of attention. Therefore, in “Baby,” Han explained the baby holds a globe (the world) and has an arrogant attitude. And the red that surrounds the baby is the hot sizzle, the buzz and the electricity of the Internet. Han also displayed a piece with two white ceramic babies in her IA gallery show.
“The interesting fact is that I don’t really like babies,” she said in response to why they were chosen as subjects. “But I choose them because their emotions are not hidden and are very visible.” And that, she explained, makes them compelling subjects.
Han said she believes her audiences can better experience her art, certainly the three dimensional pieces, by touching them. “I want my audiences to be able to use all five senses when interacting with my art,” she said. She explained that the experience of touching pieces of art removes barriers between artist, the art and the audience and makes the experience for the audience more intimate and personal.
At RISD, Han said she wanted to study animation. “At the Spotlight Awards, I told the runner up in my category that I wanted to be an animator,” she said. “He was very surprised. I think I like going in directions that nobody thinks I will.”
Han, 19, clearly understands her artistic motivations, displays a depth of vision and talent in many fine art mediums and is certainly charting her own course.
Han said she especially wished to thank her IA teachers, since all of her training and creative activity have been while at the school. She thanks art teachers David Reid-Marr, Terry Rothrock, Gerald Clarke, Rachel Welch and Eric Metzler and math teacher Justin Barett.
It is a great honor to place first in the Music Center Spotlight event and Han was one of eight first place finalists. More than 2,300 students auditioned this year and only 16 finalists were selected – a first place and runner up in each of 8 categories: ballet, non-classical dance, classical voice, non-classical voice, classical instrumental, jazz instrumental, two-dimensional art – works of art with height and weight, but no depth, using drawing, painting, computer generated or mixed media – and photography.