MORRISBURG –For Morrisburg artist MiSun Kim-Hunter the initial effects of the COVID pandemic were twofold. As an artist she saw tours end, the galleries and studios close. And as a dedicated teacher at St. Lawrence College, she was forced to leave her classroom.
“I teach water colour and pottery,” she explained during an interview with The Leader. “I had to suddenly stop my in-person classes in March, and we were so near the end of the semester! I quickly created a last assignment, and went on line to finish the semester. The students and I emailed and took pictures, which worked for my water colour students, but not for the others. I could not finish my pottery classes. All I can do is hope to catch up later.”
MiSun found some of the realities caused by the COVID crisis difficult. “I had to ask myself, what will I do? How do I plan? How do I adapt my courses for online?”
However, like many of the artists in this series, she decided to accept the new challenges: she went on line with her work and with her students.
At the outset, this was not easy. “I had to learn filming, editing and lighting. I studied how to use Youtube. I learned a whole new set of skills. Since May I have been shooting anything and everything. I have taken part in on-line exhibitions, created a website and entered on line shows. In October I began teaching again on line. I guess you could say COVID pushed me in a whole new direction.”
Still, the pandemic has had an effect on her work as an artist. “Sadly, my gallery and in-person workshops just stopped dead. COVID made everything so uncertain because no one had any idea when we would be able to start again.” She also confessed that as an artist, she has always liked to go out into the world to find inspiration: that has not been possible for some months now. She had to stay home. Yet MiSun also feels that she may have found creative ways to use this time of lockdowns and limitations.
“I describe it as going into a locked room in my mind,” she said with a laugh. “A room where I have put all the things I wanted to do one day – the doodles, the cartoons, the special projects, even trying new mediums. Shut at home, I finally had the chance to unlock that door, to do things more for me, and not necessarily for my career.”
One of the venues that MiSun has been exploring is a new medium, mixing traditional South Korean rice paper art with western styles.
“I find I have really loved this new form of drawing and painting. In some ways, I think I have been busier than ever.”
Yet the teacher in her misses her in person classrooms.
“I miss the students, the ability to communicate directly with them, to support each other. I miss the feedback and the spontaneity of experiencing their work directly. However, when I finally go back to the College (classes in ceramic design, ceramics for beginners, tea set work should begin again in-person if all goes well), I have decided to continue creating on line courses, recording my lessons so students can replay demos as often as they need.”
Asked about how the pandemic may have affected the arts over the long term: “I enjoyed my time in the house, but I realize how sad these pandemic times have been for others, and how isolating,” said artist MiSun Kim.
“I think people have definitely missed the arts, the festivals and the shows. It just isn’t quite the same on line. Yet I kept trying new things, looking to see new lights. I guess I just wanted to keep a positive outlook through a very difficult time.”