17 JMU faculty, Alumni, and students exhibit artwork in Korea

The 2023 Fiber Art Festival was on view from May 12-20, 2023, at the Seoul Arts Center Hanagram Design Museum in Seoul, South Korea

School of Art Design and Art History

by Cameryn Norris (’22)


Back to Top

FAF team at the opening
Kareena Solanki, Yulin Yuan, SADAH Associate Professor Rob Mertens, SADAH Director MiKyoung Lee, Mia Greenwald and Michelle Smith pose at the IFAF opening.

SADAH director MiKyoung Lee curated the 2023 International Fiber Art Festival exhibition, featuring the works of 17 James Madison University School of Art, Design, and Art History professors, alumni, and graduate and undergraduate students. Hosted at the Hangaram Design Museum in Seoul, South Korea, JMU MFA graduate students helped put on the exhibition.

Lee participated in the 2015 International Fiber Art Festival, IFAF. Then, two years later, Professor Jungsook Ham, IFAF Founder, and Professor Jihye Shin, IFAF President, invited her to curate an international component for the exhibition. The show was successful, with diverse artists and a wide range of art. "Since then, Professor Ham and Professor Shin have been asking me again to curate the festival," Lee shared. After a few years of hiatus due to the pandemic, the International Fiber Art Festival picked up where it left off, and directors asked Lee to curate once again. Lee’s role at SADAH allowed artist participation from JMU faculty, alums, and graduate and undergraduate students.

Kareena Solanki and Mia Greenwald pose with their work at IFAF.
MFA students Kareena Solanki and Mia Greenwald pose with their artwork at the 2023 International Fiber Arts Festival.

For some participants, it was their first exhibition abroad, garnering great experience and the opportunity to connect with artists of many different backgrounds. "It was incredible to have the opportunity to exhibit in South Korea and have the opportunity for cultural exchange through art," says recent graduate Mia Greenwald. Students and faculty alike had the privilege of creating new experiences as artists. As his first time exhibiting work in South Korea, SADAH Associate Professor Rob Mertens shares that he is “very proud of how JMU presented a conceptual Fine Art perspective to Fiber Arts.”

Participating SADAH professors represented the Art department and various disciplines. Professor of Art and Graduate Director Corinne Diop exhibited several works from her series "Unidentified Women," in which she used 21st-century scans of 19th-century daguerreotype portraits along with scans of household fabrics. Associate Professor of Art and Fibers Head Rob Mertens displayed “Reflexive Tell,” an abstraction of the human form and an approach to studying Archeology via examining the body as a "site.” Lastly, Professor of Art and Art Area Coordinator Greg Stewart showed several wearable works.

IFAF team poses in front of Corinne Diop's work.
The JMU IFAF team poses in front of the Graduate Director, Photography Head, and Professor of Art Corinne Diop's work.

Alongside their former professors, SADAH alums also exhibited work in the show. Once Dukes, living and learning in Harrisonburg, the eight alumni are spread out across the country, all of their work coming together for the exhibition in another country. The alum artists include Julia Murray, Marin Abell, Rebecca Forstater, Walker Tufts, Monique Milleson, Caley English, Cass L. Rinsler, and Nancy Daly. Their works spanned disciplines, representing several mediums and approaches. 

Six current students, including graduate and undergraduate students, also participated in the exhibition. A tight-knit team of four graduate students displayed their work at the festival, traveled to Seoul, and completed an internship with the International Fibers Festival. Second-year students Kareena Solanki and Michelle Smith, third-year Yulin Yuan, and recent graduate Mia Greenwald helped the International Fiber Arts Festival team throughout the exhibition, installing and uninstalling all artwork and creating an exhibition guide. Mia Greenwald shares the opportunity's impact, "The IFAF exhibition itself was exciting to install, the artists involved in the show were incredibly talented, and it was great to see their work.”

The graduate candidates impressed the Fiber Arts Festival team with their work, shared SADAH director MiKyoung Lee, "MFA students demonstrated proficiency as graduate level students with their strong work, professionalism, and cultural curiosity through their internship and exhibition," shares Lee. "Their internship performance was so effective and positive that the FAF organizers would hope to continue international student internships for future FAF exhibitions and events."

FAF team poses at the Daesan Art Museum
MFA Students Michelle Smith, Mia Greenwald, Yulin Yuan, and Kareena Solanki pose with Director MiKyoung Lee at the Daesan Art Museum.

The exhibition presented many opportunities for all participants, including making professional connections and learning from international artists and scholars. Mertens recalls his trip and shares: “It was incredible to meet international artists and see their thoughts and ideas through Fiber Art.” He hopes to visit again and create an art piece based on his experiences. 

"I am so proud of my colleagues, alumni, and students' participation with excellent works," shares Lee. "They presented a broad spectrum of approaches in art, creating connections to the textile medium through felting, photography, digital printing, mix media, weaving, soft sculpture, and installation." Lee plans to continue her partnership with IFAF and looks forward to future possibilities. "The International Fiber Art Festival has been a great partner in promoting contemporary Fiber Art," shares Lee. "I am an Advisory Board member for the International Fiber Art Festival organization, and I would like to continue making positive connections with international artists and the art community." She even looks forward to someday hosting the IFAF event at SADAH, pointing towards years of cross-cultural collaboration in the arts.

Photos courtesy of MiKyoung Lee, 2023.

Published: Friday, August 25, 2023

Last Updated: Friday, December 1, 2023

Related Articles