Hanging with Hong

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By Roger Snodgrass

With a little help from a group of patrons in Los Alamos, an internationally known Korean artist was able to make an encore recently in northern New Mexico.

Soun Hong, the Korean painter whose installation drew praise at the recent Site Santa Fe’s Biennial, “Lucky Number 7,” came back to participate in a unique educational outreach program in the Santa Fe schools.

Phil Hertzman, a physician who practices in Los Alamos and Santa Fe, said he was very glad to be involved in a group effort to enable Hong’s return from Korea earlier this month.

“He’s really an outstanding artist,” said Hertzman, an accomplished photographer in his own right.

Hong conducted a five-day workshop visiting art classes in Santa Fe’s public middle and high schools, engaging students in contemporary art.

A special feature of the classes was an art exchange. Students created works of art inspired by or related to one of Hong’s paintings. At the end of the workshop, the students traded their paintings with Hong and in return received one of the paintings Hong exhibited at SITE Santa Fe.

Hong finished the classes last week and returned to the Republic of Korea with plans to put together a catalog.

“He’s making a book out of them,” said Johanna Kohout of the Santa Fe Arts Institute, who coordinated the outreach program. “It’s about the young people of America and how their work compares to young Koreans, because of how different the educational systems are,” she said.

Hong’s passion for the power of art to change the way we see the world, as individuals and as a culture was a part of his charged message. Another part was about appreciating and engaging the artwork of others.

Kohout said that along with the Los Alamos patrons, the Santa Fe Art Institute and Site Santa Fe collaborated in the program.

“We thank everyone who participates in the arts,” she said.